Disney Character Inspired Mugs are now for sale at the Disney Store UK

Image aprilisthecruellestmonth (Martin (my boyfriend) and I at Disneyland Paris for my birthday last year). 

So I don’t know who else occasionally peruses the Disney Store website but for those of you in the UK I noticed the other day that they’ve started selling some merchandise that is available at the parks. I’m not sure however if the products are available in store too , as it’s been a while since I’ve been to a Disney Store. If you know please let me know!

One such product that caught my eye are these amazing character themed mugs, which I want the entire collection of. One, because I like completed sets of things. Two, because I’m too Disney obsessed. And three, simply because of the aesthetics.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

Speaking of aesthetics, I have to say the Ariel (The Little Mermaid) mug is my favourite. It doesn’t help that Ariel’s hair colour is the same colour as mine at the moment. The colour scheme is also just so pretty.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

April Wilson ImageImage: aprilisthecruellestmonth (showing off my Ariel hair). 

After the Ariel mug my next favourite is the Rapunzel inspired mug. Not only does Rapunzel have my favourite Disney princess hair (one day, I will COSPLAY her) but I love the corset style detail they use to represent Rapunzel on the mug.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

After the Rapunzel mug I love, love, love the Jasmine themed mug. I don’t even know how to put into words how pretty it is. Also, it’s a bit of a bizarre thing to say but the style of Jasmine’s hair really suits the handle detail.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

The Belle mug is also suitably beautiful and out of them feels the most decadent. I was so excited when I realised how much it really does give me the same vibe of the colour scheme of the film. Though as much I love the colour scheme, it also feels just a bit too much at the same time.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

Although, I’m not a big fan of Aurora as a princess; this is one of my favourite of the mugs design wise. As for why I don’t really like Aurora, it’s probably because they didn’t even really try to give her much of a personality. After all, she only spoke 18 lines of dialogue throughout the whole film. However, I have to say that I love the Aurora mug, especially how they included her tiara on the handle. I also am ridiculously excited that one half of the mug is pink, and if you turn it over the other half is blue, so it mirrors the famous fight over dress colour at the end of the film.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

Like the Aurora mug, although Cinderella has never been my go to princess; I can definitely see myself with this mug, as the colours on it are gorgeous. And even though I’m not a Cinderella fan; I love the glass slipper imagery surrounding the film.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

The Snow White mug is a bit ‘meh’ for me (though I do like the bejewelled apple). Just like how Snow White has always been a bit ‘meh’ for me. I was always a lot more interested in the seven dwarfs in the film to be honest. I also think it’s because like Aurora she belongs to the generation of Disney princesses that they didn’t even try to give an personality too.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

I was however pleased to see that there is a Mary Poppins inspired mug in the collection, which is designed to look like her parasol. This one is definitely the most high class out of all the designs but it’s just lacking a little bit of the whimsy of Mary Poppins for me.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

Now to the villains…

There’s only two villains unfortunately that are represented by the mugs and that is Ursula the Sea Witch and the Queen of Hearts.  Both of which are mugs I love and would have in my collection over some of the princess themed ones any day.

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

Image: via the Disney Store on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

The mugs are priced at £17.99 each (apart from the Mary Poppins mug, which is £12.99)  so are on the expensive side (I don’t drink tea so generally don’t spend a lot on mugs, as they are mainly hot chocolate receptacles for me) but they are definitely a collectors item alongside their practical purpose.

If only there was  a Tiana, Mulan, Merida, and Moana mug to complete the set. Maybe this is something they sell at the parks, if so someone let me know! As let’s face it they’d be ridiculously pretty. I’d especially love to see what they’d do with the Mulan and Moana mug! Some more Disney villain mugs as well (such, as Maleficent- though of course not a villain if we’re talking about live action Maleficent) would be much appreciated.

Either way I just want to buy all of them and only ever drink from them again!

 

 

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Feminist Reading Journey: Rupi Kaur ‘Milk and Honey’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

For anyone who isn’t aware of Rupi Kaur, well for one you should be. And two, let me do a little summary that although won’t properly categorise her awesomeness; will help give you an idea of what I knew about Rupi Kaur before reading ‘Milk and Honey’.

Before reading due to the cover of the book I knew that she was a New York Times bestselling author. I also knew that she had become famous after a photograph she posted on Instagram, depicting a woman lying on a bed having bled through her trousers  on her period, was removed from the social media site. Twice.

She responded with a public post that basically destroyed Instagram and made it clear she would not be censored. You can read the full post here, my favourite lines of which are:

“Their patriarchy is leaking.

Their misogyny is leaking.

We will not be censored.”

Well, I for one could tell she was a poet right away. Like how you can probably tell from my writing that I definitely am not.

It was this controversy surrounding Instagram that was the first time I was made aware of Rupi Kaur, as I had recently been researching the shame that surrounds periods and menstruation. Something, which had particularly grabbed my attention when I started to think about what homeless women must go through when on their period. I was of course not the first person to think about this, and in my research for the article I then wrote about the subject; I came across the charity #TheHomelessPeriod and Binti.

After, writing the article I actually also contacted Binti about volunteering for them, and I have since written several articles around the subject for them. Some of which you can find on my published page.

So as you can tell I went into reading ‘Milk and Honey’ having known Rupi Kaur through her photography and her position as an advocate to end the shame surrounding periods. What I found is a book of poetry so rich and full about all the struggles women go through life. Some I could relate to. Some I could not (due to my heritage in comparison to Rupi Kaur). But what I didn’t know I learnt from. And what I did know gave back that feeling that is hard to describe, but maybe is best described as being like honey to honour Rupi Kaur. As the feeling I am describing is both sweet and familiar, and also soothing just like honey. It is that feeling you have when you have read something that reflects back an experience you have also had and makes you no longer feel alone.

What Rupi Kaur has written I think intends to do just that, which you can see by the different subsections she chose to categorise her poetry by: ‘the hurting’, ‘the loving’, ‘the breaking’, ‘the healing’. Also, her poetry although devastatingly brutal at times is easy to read if you are not used to poetry. Or are new to poetry. As if I am being honest, although there are some poems I love; poetry has never been my go to option. I’ve never been able to have the same sustained connection with poetry, as I have been able to have with novels.

However, as ‘Milk and Honey’ depicts a journey through poems it provides a narrative and so a safe, similar space that us novel readers are used to feeling. Not that of course this is anything new for books of poetry, but when thinking of narrative poems; many people probably remember the long poems written in old English that they used to struggle with. Here is instead something you can sink your teeth into with being an english student.

However, all the while you are reading Rupi Kaur manages to sink her teeth right back into you. Partly, because there is an undeniable sensual edge to a lot of the poems that is open and unafraid (and of course makes me slightly uncomfortable to talk about just because that’s who I am) in its explicitness.

Rupi’s poems reflect how in recent years there has been an increasing movement of women taking back their sexuality and talking about it openly and honestly. Including the highs and the lows, and what sexuality is like for women from their own perspective. Rather, than the male lens that is constantly thrown on sexuality.

Women then are no longer giving into the theory that women have to be in competition with each other over these matters. Instead they want to discuss it. Something, which connects to the poem, which I chose to showcase alongside Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective’s beautiful illustration of Rupi Kaur.

“other women’s bodies

are not our battlegrounds”

-Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur 1Image: The Kawaii Kollective

I’m also happy to share a special bonus image of Rupi Kaur by The Kawaii Kollective, which is for now exclusively on this blog post!

Rupi Kaur 2Image: The Kawaii Kollective

The reason I chose this poem out of all the beautiful poems in the collection is that it is something I have personally over the last few years really tried to drum into my head.

I used to obsessively reading ‘women’s’ magazines. You know the ones that talk about who’s gained weight and who’s lost it. No one was perfect. Everyone who was tiny was revered (and then berated the next week). I didn’t enjoy the content but I couldn’t put it down. I internalised what the right weight was, the right size, always chastising myself for never living up to that ideal.

This continued into the start of my first year of university, and was not helped by the internet (not that I didn’t use the internet before university but I generally started to spend a lot more time on my laptop in general at university) where you could easily google someone’s weight and height. There were even websites dedicated to guessing (which I’m not going to put here because I don’t want to encourage anyone to go to them) celebrities weights and sizes. In the comments I would read I’d see people debate someone’s weight extensively, and argue passionately about whether a particular celebrity was telling the truth.

I hated the way these comments talked about women, and each other. But it was something I couldn’t stop.

I’m not sure how, though I knew why, but at one point I did stop.

I made a conscious decision to not read these magazines or look at the websites anymore. And I found myself a lot happier. No, it did not automatically cure the anxieties I had about my weight. But my weight and body image became something that no longer took up almost every working hour of my day.

The reason I am talking about this is because it is not just celebrities we do this to. I think Facebook as we are all aware is one of the biggest culprits for this. We all look on in glee if someone has gained weight, or slightly annoyed if someone has lost it. When quite frankly it’s none of our business. I’ve managed to stop myself doing this recently, as I’ve become more aware of the damage always talking about someone in terms of weight has done to me and others I know.  Now, I try not to engage with the changes in people I know past surface value. If someone loses weight and is happy about it, good for them, as long as they are healthy and happy, that’s all I care about. If someone gains weight, not that I’d ever make it my business or talk to them about it (I never know why people think it’s their business to comment); it’s none of my business. All I try to look for now is if someone is happy, and if they are not.

Personally, beyond this kind of conversation I will not talk about changes in my weight. This is only because I know I’d obsess over the figures. The weight before. The weight after. The gain or loss. It made the situation worse for me. Obviously, I am not saying no one should not talk about it ever. But I personally don’t have any sage wisdom to share. I don’t know enough about nutrition or exercise. Therefore, I don’t want to say anything. I’m not saying someone cannot be proud of their weight loss or weight gain for that matter. I’m just avoiding the subject because of my own personal experiences.

That’s why this poem was one that resonated with me the most. Though I can also think of an extension to the poem as well. Other women’s bodies are also not our aspiration. Your body is never going to live up to someone else’s. We all have different body shapes, etc. This also applies to men, non binary and trans individuals, or the gender identity you define yourself as (as these are categories in which issues with weight are still not discussed as much as they should be). Personally, this was something that took me way too long to realise, and plagued my teenage years, as my body shape then was different to all my friends.

I think in the end what I take from ‘Milk and Honey’  is that you can always rebuild yourself back up and start anew. You can change the way you think. About yourself. About other women. Don’t let anyone ever make you think you can’t. It’s never too late to change the way you think. We can all heal (as cheesy as that sounds).

Whether you can relate to the struggles that Rupi Kaur covers such as bad relationships, father issues, the way women are sexualised within society, or not, ‘Milk and Honey’ delivers Rupi Kaur’s perspective of being a woman. Read it if you can’t relate and prepare to cry if you can.

Feminist Reading Journey: Maya Angelou, ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Before I begin talking about Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ I want to talk a little bit again about why I started this journey. For those who don’t know, or haven’t read my previous posts, I began what I have deemed as my ‘feminist’ reading journey because I had still not read a lot of the ‘classics’ of feminist literature.

Although, so far in my journey I am quite confident that most of the authors I have read would identity as feminists (in fact, I have seen the majority say they are one) but that doesn’t mean all of them will identify as feminists. Since, I want to explore works not only by feminist authors but that have feminist themes, or more importantly showcase an experience that I have no authority on; I personally don’t see this to be an issue. Also, many people also forget that feminism, as part of its mission for equality should also take into account other issues, such as class inequality, racism, prejudice, and abillity (so I intend to look at works that cover this experience as well). Some times then the books I read may not have feminism, as its main theme, but it will always be there lurking in the background.

For me this journey is about learning about other experiences. I have heard about a lot of the voices of people who have had different experiences to me from seeing their quotes plastered on social media. Maya Angelou was a voice that cropped up again and again. I engaged with her, yes, but only on a surface level. The reason I started this journey then quite simply was to stop mildly paying attention and full immerse myself in feminism.

I also think Maya Angelou is important when we live in a world where people try to speak to an experience they have not lived through, or completely understand. As although a lot of people may think they know what it was like growing up black in the 1930s and 1940s in South America; Maya Angelou actually knows what the experience was like. She lived it.

After all, one of the main debates within feminist theory started from the idea that as woman we all share the same experiences, and so can be united over this experience. This train of thought however was shattered when many pointed out that women of colour, for example, not only face the world with the prejudice of being a woman, but an added prejudice because of their skin colour. Low income women also have a different experience from women with a higher income. Queer women have a different experience. Trans women have a different experience- one that should not be discounted.

Recently, the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, received backlash over her comments about the difference between a cis women and a trans women’s experience:

“My feeling is trans women are trans women…I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges that the world accords to men and then sort of change, switch gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman.”

Laverne Cox, famous for starring in Orange Is The New Black responded in a series of tweets in which she weighs in other Adichie’s comments:

“I was talking to my twin brother today about whether he believes I had male privilege growing up. I was a very feminine child though I was assigned male at birth. My gender was constantly policed. I was told I acted like a girl and I was bullied and shamed for that.

My femininity did not make me feel privileged. I was a good student and was very much encouraged because of that but I saw cis girls who showed academic promise being nurtured in the black community. I grew up in Mobile, Ala.

Gender exists on a spectrum & the binary narrative which suggests that all trans women transition from male privilege erases a lot of experiences and isn’t intersectional. Gender is constituted differently based on the culture we live in. There’s no universal experience of gender, of womanhood. To suggest that is essentialist and again not intersectional.

Many of our feminist foremothers cautioned against such essentialism and not having an intersectional approach to feminism. Class, race, sexuality, ability, immigration status, education, all influence the ways in which we experience privilege. So though I was assigned male at birth I would contend that I did not enjoy male privilege prior to my transition. Patriarchy and cissexism punished my femininity and gender nonconformity. The irony of my life is before my transition I was called a girl and after I am very often called a man. Gender policing and the fact that gender binaries can only exist through strict policing complicates the concept gendered privilege & that’s ok cause it’s complicated. Intersectionality complicates both male and cis privilege.

That is why it is paramount that we continue to lift up diverse trans stories. For too many years there’s been too few trans stories in the media. For over 60 years since Christine Jorgensen stepped off the plane from Europe and became the first internationally known trans woman the narrative about trans folks in the media was one of macho guy becomes a woman. That’s certainly not my story or the stories of many trans folks I know. That narrative often works to reinforce binaries rather than explode them. That explosion is the gender revolution, I imagine, one of true gender self determination.”

What Laverne’s response to Chimamanda’s argument reveals is that the argument over shared experiences vs. intersectionality is one that is still taking place within feminist politics. What the response also demonstrates if that stating why you disagree with an opinion is more powerful than declaring the other person should not speak, and that you can have a dialogue without it turning to aggression.

Hence, why like Laverne suggests to do, I have made it my mission to read as many different voices who have had as many different experiences as possible (though unfortunately there is still quite a sizeable gap in experiences written by trans women). I might not always agree with what they define in terms of feminism. I, for example, don’t agree with Chimamanda’s views about transgender women, but agree with her on many different issues. However, though I disagree with her on this issue that does not mean I will ignore ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, for example, and it one of the books I intend to read in my journey. I will also read books by people that have created very polarising opinions such as the works of  Lena Dunham and Sophia Amoruso because I think it is better to engage these works for their positives and negatives rather than ignore them.

However, I’ve talked enough about my reasonings now; it’s time for me to talk about ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’.

For those who have not read the book yet I shall start by issuing a warning that the book contains rape/child abuse. This discussion also contains quite a lot of spoilers, which is something which my reviews/ discussions usually do not contain, but I found it hard to talk about the significance of this novel without raising significant plot points. 

Maya I Know WhyImage: April Wilson 

The first in a series of autobiographies by Maya Angelou, ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ deals with the period in Angelou’s life up until she is 17 (date wise that is up until 1944). Like Angelou, the book is fearless, and honest in the way so few books are. Unsurprisingly, it instantly gripped me in a way that I hadn’t felt about in a book in a while (and in fact needed- I was getting way too distanced from my earlier love of reading).

The book’s honesty reminded me of the book ‘Chinese Cinderella’ by Adeline Yen Mah that I strongly suggest you read if you haven’t already. Like Angelou, Adeline Yen Mah wrote her autobiographies later in life, which is why I think both books are so ‘honest’ (I’m not saying that everything is completely 100% true- just that it feels like the authors are not holding anything back). Time, as we all know, gives us perspective and most importantly lets us distance ourself from the embarrassment we felt over particular events. There are many events that I am able to freely talk about now, like, for example, the stress that came with having an extremely heavy period during a class trip; that would have embarrassed me to talk about as freely as I do now at the time.

The themes of the book are best summed up by Maya Angelou herself and the quote I chose to accompany the illustration for this book, which Caroline from The Kawaii Collective very kindly illustrated, does just that:

“The black female is assaulted in her tender years by all the common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in a crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and black lack of power.”

-Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

This drawing, along with all of my other collaborations with The Kawaii Collective was originally inspired by Kimothy Joy’s collaboration with The Huffington Post.

Be sure to also check out Caroline’s Etsy shop if you like what you see and want to purchase her art work!

Angelou’s experience demonstrates this quote and then some. Not only does she have to cope with the hatred from the white children who came into her grandmother’s store; she has to deal with the threat of the Klux Klux Klan in a scene early in the book.  Although the sheriff tells them of the threat; he does not offer any protection and they are left hoping that their Uncle Willie will not be lynched (and end up hiding him in a bin of potatoes and onions in case anyone comes by the store). Maya herself is also sexually abused and raped at age 8 by her mother’s boyfriend.

Through all this Angelou remains a fighter, despite her vulnerability. In fact, she remains a fully realised human being. This might seem stupid of me to mention until you realise how it is only when black people tell their stories that they are in fact given fully realised characters. See this article for a better explanation of what I am referring to, as I do not feel I have further authority to speak on the subject, not having experienced the same situation in terms of representation, as the author of the article.

However, Angelou is unsurprisingly failed by the world. She becomes pregnant towards the end of the novel through sex she doesn’t even enjoy, “I…didn’t enjoy it.” Not at all surprising considering the experience ended with: “My partner showed that our experience had reached its climax by getting up abruptly”.

Why have the sex then? Because she feared she might be a lesbian, which spells out why sex education is needed stronger than most examples I know (I know this is of course set in an earlier time period, but sex education today is lacking in the way it teaches consent and LBGTQ+ issues).

Especially, considering the stereotypes she believes make up a lesbian still persist today:

“After a through self-examination, in the light of all I had read and heard about dykes and bulldaggers, I reasoned that I had none of the obvious traits- I didn’t wear trousers, or have big shoulders or go in for sports, or walk like a man or even want to touch a woman.”

Not only do these stereotypes perpetuate the idea that someone who identifies as female and has a muscular body frame cannot be attractive (which is completely untrue, they are beautiful and rock); it opens up a whole host of other problems, like putting woman off sports. Something which still persists, as I personally know women who have stopped sports they were good at, as they were told they had to bulk up and were afraid of looking like a ‘man’. Gender does not have to exist under this binary lines, and putting being a lesbian under this category damages not only lesbian women especially, but everyone.

There is though still hope within the story. Like I mentioned Angelou is a fighter. Within the novel alone she becomes the first black female streetcar conductor in San Fransisco because of her refusal to back down when they repeatedly tell her she cannot have the job. It also shows in the wide range of roles she has played, as USA Today reports: “Angelou has been a memoirist, poet, civil rights activist, actress, director, professor, singer and dancer”.

Maya Angelou also is now Dr. Maya Angelou, as: “Although she never went to college, she has been awarded more than 30 honorary degrees”.

Her birthday also coincides with the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on the 4th April, 1968. In response, for year she didn’t celebrate her birthday. Instead: “She and King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006, would “meet or talk or send each other flowers” on April 4. Each year, she continues to say a birthday prayer, “a prayer for the country.”

Maya Angelou then refuses to back down, and be defeated. It’s no coincidence that one of her most famous poems is called ‘Still I Rise‘. You need only read her work to see it.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about Maya Angelou’s life, although I recommend reading her autobiographies first, here are a few articles to read that may provide helpful:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/may/25/biography.mayaangelou

(Covers the subjects of some of her later autobiographies)

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/growing-up-maya-angelou-79582387/?no-ist

 

 

Living out my embroidery dreams

Well, now I’ve gotten over my fear about talking about fashion, I see no reason not to continue onwards and upwards and talk about another trend that has been gracing the high street this spring: floral embroidery (well, embroidery in general but I’m going to focus on pieces with floral motifs).

For those of you who did not read my previous post whenever I mention a retailer I will mention a little bit about their ethics and sustainability, not to be judgemental or anything like that, but just so you know more about the retailer you are buying from. Now, before I even started this I knew that this list of my favourite embroidery pieces was going to be dominated by Topshop and Zara. However, I tried to scour the internet for some other retailers, especially retailers with a good track record for ethics and sustainability.

As always however let’s start with my favourite:

Topshop (I think my love for Topshop is partly fuelled by that I longed after their pieces for years but they were way out of my price range so now that I can sometimes actually afford some of their stuff I get way too excited).

7/20 on the Ethical shopping guide. 

For a list of pro’s and con’s for Topshop click on this link. To summarise, Topshop is committed to the Sustainable Clothing Plan and its targets, but the brand does not publicly share the detailers of its suppliers.

First of all, I’m going to talk about this beautiful dress (£29.00) I picked up from them, purely because of the sleeve details. However, I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed to realise that it’s a bit too transparent for my tastes to wear without a white cami dress underneath. However, it would perfect for the beach (not that I am a frequent beach visitor- I’m much more of a autumn/winter person) with a swimsuit or bikini underneath. I wouldn’t have minded if it was advertised as see through or it looked see through in the pictures on the website, but it was not so I have to admit it was a little bit disappointing. Especially, as it means I have to purchase another item to make it wearable.

18362622_2248264658732685_1528254569_o        Image: April is the Cruellest Month 

As for my other picks from Topshop, they’re numerous so I thought they’d be best summed up in a Polyvore set.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 20.11.16 Full set available on my Polyvore!

Top left shirt: £29.00 (clothes will now be described as seen from left to right).

I love, love, love this shirt- it’d be such a good piece for when you want to dress up an outfit (maybe a black skirt) a bit more but aren’t feeling like going ‘all out’ that day.

Cream jacket with blue embroidery: £55

At first I was not sure about this piece but I have been feeling the pastels recently, and this totally fits that vibe. It makes me wish I had pastel pink hair again to match.

White blouse with floral shoulder detail: £36 (currently sold out online but still available at time of writing in some stores).

Ok, so I am very upset that this is basically almost sold out because I only managed to discover this the other day on the Topshop website. Especially, as I’m really loving all the floral embroidery pieces with detailing around the shoulders at the moment and this blouse so perfectly fits that bill.

Black moto western borg jacket with rose embroidery detail: £85 (Petite) Available here in standard sizing (same price).

So this is quite expensive (please, please go on sale) and maybe a little out of season that is if we ever actually start to warm up here in the UK (which I’m hoping we don’t as I am not a child of the sun) but I just adore borg jackets.

Denim flatform trainers with rose embroidery: £29

I don’t know why but I’m really feeling denim trainers in all forms at the moment so these for me are a must (that is if I didn’t need to invest in some solid shoes that will work for all day everyday since all my other pairs have holes in).

White studded shoulder bag with floral embroidery and a gold strap: £25.00

I’m not going to lie I am not a fan of the gold strap but other than that I love this bag and it would look lovely with some denim.

Denim pinafore with floral embroidery on the pockets: £45

Ok, so I cannot decide between this denim pinafore or the other one shown- I love them both. I’m slightly more inclined to the other one however as I’d rather not draw too much attention to my hip area just because the way I am proportioned means it might not neccessarily flatter me.

Floral embroidered MOM jeans: £59.00

Confession time. I have yet to venture into the world of MOM jeans though they’ve grown on me over the last year, especially when they feature floral patterns like the one on this pair.

Black denim jacket with summery floral embroidery details: £65.00

I don’t know if it’s just me but I feel like these have a slight fruity vibe in terms of the colours of the florals, making this a jacket that I think (as long as the weather is not too hot) could make the transition into summer.

Denim pinafore with floral detailing at the top: £45.00

I think this pinafore just beats the other one for me, however, I’m not sure what the fit would be like for me, whereas I know what the other dress fits like (as I have a plain denim version).

White embroidered ‘Jamie’ jeans: £59.00

I saw someone wearing these, or at least a similar pair the other day and once again I started dreaming of white denim. I don’t know why but I always loved white denim especially when I was a teenager and these jeans kind of rekindled that love in me.

Black platforms with floral embroidery detail: £34.00

These are so pretty that I might actually attempt to wear heals for once just so I can strut my stuff in these.

Zara 

I could not find a rating on the Ethical Sustainability guide for Zara. However, I found some information about their ethics here, which talks about how the company is committed to a living wage for all workers, however, the brand has been implicated in the appalling working conditions of workers in Bangalore, India.  

Ah Zara, home of embroidery. I went on the website in search of treasures, and treasures I found. Since Zara is refusing to clip onto my Polyvore for some reason I had to pin the pieces I liked to my Pinterest board. On the plus side it’s encouraged me to start using my Pinterest board alongside this blog.

Source: aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

This dress combines a lot of things I love. Sheer polka dot details, floral embroidery and the fact that it is a jumpsuit underneath so you do not have to worry about the perils of wearing a dress. I love it so much it’s making me wish I was going to my university’s Summer Ball this year simply so I would have an excuse to buy it.

Price: £29.99

Source: aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

So you know what this would go well with? Gingham! For those who are confused why I sound so excited about this it’s because in my last post I came to the realisation of how much I loved gingham and daisies together. These shorts would also look great with the gingham crop shirt from Topshop that I wore in that post.

Price: £25.99

Source: aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

So this shirt basically ticks all the boxes for things I love right now. Especially since I have been meaning to get a top with a built in choker neckline. I think this definitely needs to go on my birthday list.

Price: £17.99

Source: aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

Unsure if you love or hate this? Me too. But I figure there must be something that keeps drawing me in. I think it definitely will look amazing when its unzipped. Either way, it’s a must have statement piece for anyone looking to jazz up a normal parka.

Price: £99.99

Source: aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest

There’s some definite flapper vibes going on with this dress and I love it. It also looks like it will be super comfortable on hot days due to its flowy feel.

Price: £59.99

Source: aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

This is another dress that looks like a dress but is in fact actually a jumpsuit. You can’t see it on the pin but the dress has a beautiful tie up detail to the back and from the pictures on the Zara site I am pretty sure it has pockets. That’s right, pockets.

Price: £29.99

Rokit (vintage) 

Rokit is a UK based vintage clothing retailer that according to their website has recycled over a million tonnes of discarded clothing and accessories over the last three decades. In terms of sustainability vintage clothing is always a plus, as it ensures clothes are not being wasted and given a new life. 

My love affair with vintage clothing started in my teenage years. It was as I begun my vintage journey that Rokit came on my radar, despite that they specialised in denim and I was more a fan of the ‘classic’ vintage styles. While places like Rokit are great for sustainability they can be irritating in terms of sizing, as since they stock individual, unique options they might not always have your size.

The piece that I am going to showcase from Rokit will only fit the size indicated on the listing, so I chose the piece based on whether they fit the trend/ aesthetic I was looking for rather than whether they’d fit me personally or not.

The piece I am talking about is this amazing 80s blue denim sleeveless dress (perfect for nailing that Rachel from Friends aesthetic) for £40.00, which would look amazing with this long sleeve crop top from Topshop (in burgundy) for £20.00, some black tights and the pair of vegan dr. martens I am forever lusting over (£100.00).

Source: aprilisthecruellestmonth/Pinterest 

So those are my embroidery picks! I also spotted some pieces I liked at New Look so I would definitely take a look there too but there was nothing that stood out to me enough to make this list. As always if you know a good sustainable retailer I should check out please let me know!

Crazy about Gingham

Image: Wizard of Oz/ Warner Bros. 

I’ve not written about fashion before on this blog. In fact, I’ve always been nervous about talking about fashion fullstop. For the longest time I was afraid that feminism and fashion could not align. I always kind of felt that too many people considered fashion too frivolous and that it concentrated too much on looks. As I got older I realised that this does not have to be the case. Fashion can be liberating. It can help people break away from the gender identity imposed on them by society (although it can often make us want to conform to it too). Fashion can (mind the pun) make a statement.

Fashion is also problematic. Sweatshops are a real reality, which we seem to ignore until it’s brought up occasionally. I along with others justify it because well every clothes retailer is doing it. Some of the brands you think are the worst also are not. The highest scoring brands according to the Ethical shopping guide by the Ethical Consumer include H and M (probably due to their Conscious range) with Asos and Topshop scoring just above average. While difficult at times I try as much as possible to avoid the brands with the lower scores.

Fashion can also be difficult as a vegetarian (for those who don’t know I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 16). For the first few years being vegetarian I just made choices based on food, not remembering that the clothes we wear can contain animal products too. Consequently, I still own things that are leather that I now feel uncomfortable wearing. Though, I of course feel it would be worse to throw these items away. Currently, my plan is to sell them on my Depop shop so they can be used by people who don’t feel the same as I do (as it makes me feel worse they are not being used), and hopefully I can raise myself the funds to get some vegan Dr. Martens.

So as you can see I find it difficult to talk about fashion, especially fashion trends. As it is the demand for fast fashion that has helped create the need for mass, cheap labour. However, I do not see the trend market as something that is going to change. That’s capitalism. What I feel we can change is the pressure we put on companies to be ethical and transparent about what they are selling. We can also ensure we support local, ethical and sustainable businesses where possible (I am aware these companies are often more expensive, which is problematic if you are on a low income). Another fantastic option for sustainability is vintage clothing.

To help everyone make informed decision when shopping when outlining my favourite pieces from one of Spring’s current trends, gingham. I have to admit when I saw the flurry of gingham hit the shops I was super excited, probably because Wizard of Oz was my favourite film growing up so this was my moment to live out my gingham dreams.

Topshop 

7/20 on the Ethical shopping guide. 

For a list of pro’s and con’s for Topshop click on this link. To summarise, Topshop is committed to the Sustainable Clothing Plan and its targets, but the brand does not publicly share the detailers of its suppliers. 

One thing I have seen combined a lot is pink with gingham (usually a pink top with gingham trousers). And although she does not wear gingham in the video the vibe I am talking of reminds me of Hayley Williams look in Paramore’s Playing God music video.

screen-shot-2017-05-01-at-19-56-49.png
Image: Paramore Playing God Music Video/ Fueled by Ramen 

I’ve also seen the look pop up a few times on my Instagram feed.

gingham + pink 🍦🍦🍦 http://liketk.it/2rbzr #liketkit

A post shared by ✨🌸 kayla hadlington 🌸✨ (@kaylahadlington) on

Image: @kaylahaddington/ Instagram 

Image: @asos/ Instagram 

Therefore, these trousers from Topshop that combine both pink and gingham are definitely on my to buy list. At £45.00 they are going to have to wait a while however!

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 18.10.58How I’d style the trousers. Full set available on my Polyvore!

Items featured

Look 1:

Top: Topshop £26.00

Sandals: Asos £46.00 (Brand however is River Island so they should be available on the River Island website also)

Look 2:

Top: Topshop £22.00

Shoes: Topshop £28.00

Look 3:

Top: Monki  £8.00

Jacket: Topshop £49.00

Ring: Asos £11.00

Bag: Matt and Nat (vegan)- No Longer Available. You can find similar backpacks here. Average price is around £98.00-£110.00. There are also some Matt and Nat backpacks available from Asos, which offer a student discount.

Shoes: Vegan Dr Martens £100.00

The next piece I love featuring gingham from Topshop is this beautiful, oversized gingham crop top showcasing another trend I’m loving at the moment, embroidery. This piece retails from £29.00, but I bought mine when Topshop were offering a 20% off student discount. I paired mine with a denim pinafore (£36.00) from Topshop that I bought the same time as the crop top.

Image: @aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Instagram

My other favourites from Topshop include this cropped jacket with frill sleeves (£49.00); this off the shoulder dress with tie straps (£36.00)- the version I have linked is for Petites but there is a pink version available (£30.00) on their website that is not Petite (I also looked on the Glamorous website for the dress but could not find it); these adorable  wedges (£39.00) and finally this pinafore (£39.00) that basically combines the look I created with my gingham top and dungarees.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 18.45.53Full set available on my Polyvore

On another note all these pieces would look amazing with some form of daisy accessory (daisy earrings, perhaps?)!

Another thing to remember with Topshop, along with Asos is that they also stock brands that are not their own that have different manufacturing processes so remember to look up any brand that is not their own brand, as their ethics and sustainability might differ. 

Asos 

7.5 on the Ethical shopping guide. 

More about Asos and sustainability can be found here. On the Asos website they have a ‘Eco Edit’ section featuring brands that fit Asos’s criteria for sustainability. 

First of all, I want to talk about a top that I recently bought from Asos which is also part of their eco-edit from the Scandinavian brand Monki. It’s a off the shoulder, bardot blue gingham top with ruffle sleeves. Overall, it’s generally very lovely but is quite tight on the shoulders and chest area (despite me buying a size that should have been fine in that respect so bear that in mind when buying). It retails for £25.00.

April GinghamImage: Aprilisthecruellestmonth. My choker is also from Asos as part of a set of 2. I gave the choker featuring the Hamsa symbol to my sister, as I did not feel comfortable wearing such a spiritual symbol. 

A lot of the rest of my picks are also from Monki including this red gingham cami dress (£30.00) and this black and white gingham shirt with massive ruffle detail (£20.00). The pieces I loved not from Monki included a yellow gingham halter neck dress (there needs to be more yellow gingham pieces- I love the combination!) retailing for £30.00; this jumpsuit that I wish I had the height to wear (£38.00); this gingham sundress by a brand called QED London with adorable daisies embroidered all over it (which made me so happy considering I not just ranting about how daisies and gingham were a match made in heaven) that is on sale for £15.00 and finally this high waisted gingham skirt for £35.00 (because I have seen long gingham skirts everywhere and I have to admit they look ridiculously pretty).

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 19.13.29Full set available on my Polyvore

Zara 

I could not find a rating on the Ethical Sustainability guide for Zara. However, I found some information about their ethics here, which talks about how the company is committed to a living wage for all workers, however, the brand has been implicated in the appalling working conditions of workers in Bangalore, India.  

There are many beautiful gingham pieces at Zara right now with many featuring embroidery, my favourite however has to be this yellow gingham crop top and skirt set (though I only really want the skirt- it’s a shame they don’t sell them separately) for £29.99. The skirt would go amazing with a 60s style wicker basket bag (I’ve seen some at vintage stores and always wished I picked one up).

Image: @orangwanita/ Instagram 

The bag closest to the left had side is the kind of bag I mean.

New Look

5.5 on the Ethical shopping guide. However, it has also been commended for its approach to ethics by the ediTRACK blog

Another trend that is everywhere this season is mules. Although, I was resistant at first as they are just not the style of shoe I usually prefer; I have to admit they have grown on me. Though the fact that Betty Draper sports them in Mad Men might have something to do with that.

When I saw this embroidered pair in New Look (£25.99) I couldn’t help but fall in love. My other top pick from New Look is yet again another Gingham skirt (£24.99) but the ruffle detail at the bottom that adds just that bit of drama clinched it for me, and it would look amazing with a red lip or top, or both! My final pick from New Look is this midi dress that I just love for it simplicity and 90s music video vibes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my gingham picks. Comment with your favourites, and if you know of any places that stock any more ethical and sustainable options please let me know, as I know that it may seem a bit hypocritical that I talk about sustainable fashion and then show clothes from places that do not completely advocate those ideals. My point wasn’t that, and I don’t want to call out people for supporting these companies (one, because it would be hypocritical, and two, I know that’s not realistic); I just wanted to make sure people had the information there, so that if they liked a piece from two different companies, and couldn’t decide- maybe this would help.

Why healthcare needs to be free and accessible

My sisters as babies. Image: Provided with permission from my family. 

I have two twin sisters. They are kind (selectively to me of course as I am their sister); intelligent and though being a good person is more than this, and being a woman is much more than this; they are beautiful inside and out. They were also born premature. Devastatingly so. 10 weeks to be exact.

The reason they had to come out so early (my mother had a caesarean) is because one of my sisters was consuming all the nutrients so my other sister did not have enough. However, when they came out ironically it was her lung that collapsed. Both of them had to be kept in incubators. They were so small and under developed that their heads moulded to the shape they were lying in the incubators (something I can now tease them about). The twin whose lung collapsed still has a scar from where they saved her life, that has faded with age but is still there. However, she is braver than me, and never that I could see, showed any insecurity about it.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 00.06.26
My sisters as babies. Image: Provided with permission from my family. 

I’m telling you all this because if we had lived in the US, or another country which does not have free, universal healthcare; our lives would have been radically different. We very likely would have not been able to pay for the care and attention my sisters needed. And while what happened to them at birth did not affect them later in life, so would have not effected our family’s insurance policy later; the initial specialist treatment they needed might not have been available.

Don’t just take it from me, watch Jimmy Kimmel talk about the recent birth of his son, and reflect on how healthcare should not be something that is limited to you based on how much you earn:

“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.”

Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live/ YouTube 

What I am trying to say is do not take the NHS for granted, please make sure nurses are not struggling to survive (I’m looking at you Theresa May) and that junior doctors do not feel they have to go on strike. Do not let privatisation be the answer. Let us just please accept finally that human beings deserve healthcare as a basic human right.