What I got for my Birthday: 2017 (Age 22)

So it was my birthday recently (the 12th June) and I turned 22. And pardon the pun but I am not feeling 22. Anyone older than me is going to laugh but 22 just feels so much older than 21. It doesn’t help that I feel like I’m going through another career crisis again where I’m not sure about what job my skills are best aligned for. At the moment though I just would like to earn enough to survive, and then figure out how I’m going to take the world by storm (tragic I know but we all have to start somewhere).

Let me also just start this post by stating that I am not doing this post in any way to boast about what I got for my birthday. I know I am very lucky and privileged to have this many people care for me and take the time to send me cards and presents. I just have always enjoyed these kinds of post on YouTube, so wanted to do my own blog version. Plus, another reason I started this blog was to make sure I not let significant moments just go by anymore. Forcing myself to catalogue everything in this way is the best scrapbook I will ever make and it means you get the thrill of delving into my not so fascinating private life.

Before I talk about the presents I received I first want to thank everyone who sent me cards, which includes my godmother Rita, my Nanny and Grandad, my aunts, Dave, Karen (who also got me some awesome TIGI Bed Head Colour Goddess shampoo and conditioner, which I would have took a photograph of but I’ve used half it already so it’s looking a bit worse for wear!), and to Holly who treated me to a meal at Harvester before my birthday. Also, thank you to everyone who wished me happy birthday on Facebook. If I’ve missed anyone out I sincerely apologise, it’s just being an idiot trust me, rather than a personal slight.

But now let’s get to the presents. I first have to talk about what my mother got me, though she is in fact yet to get the present (because she wants to give it to me in person) but I know that she is getting me some vegan Dr Martens. Expect to see me wearing them constantly as soon as I get them!

Before I show the rest of my presents however I’d like to apologise for my hideous carpet in advance- I did not chose it as I rent the property I’m living in.

From my boyfriend…

The Kat Von D Alchemist Palette 

The Alchemist PaletteI am especially fond of the rainbow effect that occurs when light reflects off the packaging. 

Alchemist Palette Inside

So it appears that constantly sending your boyfriend links to makeup pays off. In fact, he was actually really sweet and signed up to the notification list for the product (it sold out pretty quickly when it first came out) so he could buy it soon again as soon as it was back in stock.

Before this palette I was already a big fan of Kat Von D makeup. Firstly, because it’s vegan and cruelty free, and secondly because the liquid lipstick shades are ridiculously beautiful (which reminds me I NEED more of them- I only have Lolita II and Nosferatu so far).

The alchemist palette is kind of an all in one highlightet. I’ve experimented with it as a eyeshadow, on top of liquid lipstick and as a highlighter- all of which work! I have to say my favourite has been using it on top of eyeshadow and on top of my eyeliner (to turn it a bright blue!) but this is also partly because I need some more darker lipstick shades for the colours to really pop on top of lipstick (for lipstick I definitely recommend using a brush to apply).

You’ve probably already seen a million swatches of the product already but I took a quick swatch on the back of my hand if anyone is interested (finger swatches- no primer). From left to right the colours are green/emerald, blue/ sapphire, (by the way I have an insect bite under that swatch, apologises!) ultra-violet/ amethyst, pink/ opal. The palette is also tiny but I’ve been experimenting quite a lot and barely dented it so far so a little product definitely goes a long way.

Alchemist Palette swatches

Alchemist Palette Shades

Inside the Alchemist Palette 2

Chocolate and flowers 

I know that for a lot of people chocolate and flowers are kind of clichéd but I just really love having flowers in the room (plus I like using some of the petals to make dried flowers, which make your books smell nice too).

Also, it was nice to come home after work (yes, I worked on my birthday, I am a living martyr!) and see the chocolates and roses waiting on my bed.

Martin's presentRose Birthday

From my Grandad 

My grandad always likes to give each member of a our family a mixture of different pieces he’s picked up, or what he dubs a pandora’s box for our birthday. So I’ll go through each item one by one.

A blue pendant 

For anyone who looks at my Instagram story (so my sisters and Callie basically) you might have caught a glimpse of me wearing this necklace on my latest trip to London. I am also wearing a birthday present from my friend Callie in this photograph (and in the rose photograph as well), but more on that later.

Blue Pendant

Small ornament

I’m not really sure what this is or if it is of any historical significance but as far as I can tell it is a little tableau scene that you could prop up like a picture frame. Ideal for those who like to have a little bit of a vintage theme to their room. Since, I’m considering using the theme ‘vintage rose’ to decorate my room in the future this should fit in perfectly.

Small ornament 

Rose Scented Gifts 

My grandad recently went to Bulgaria to visit his sister so for my birthday I received a lot of rose scented items, as I believe that is a signature of Bulgaria. I haven’t tried them out yet so I will let you know how I find them but the packaging for the products is beautiful.

 

 

Rose Face Cream

 

 

 

 

Rose themed box 

So there was definitely a rose theme going on with the box, which I throughly appreciated since my favourite flowers are roses. This box also fits my ‘vintage rose’ theme nicely, and will be a great box to store jewellery in.

 

 

Owl ornament 

The other theme of the box was owls and reading. I don’t know about anyone else but owls and reading have always been linked together in my imagination, and since my grandad has always known me to be a bookworm I appreciated this theme a lot.

Owl ornament

Owl bookmark 

I love, love, love decorative bookmarks like this. It beats what I used to use as bookmarks any day, which was usually whatever was lying around so everything from receipts to spoons (yes, spoons). This is definitely a much prettier option.

Bookmark

Beatrix Potter bookplates 

I think this is a really lovely idea for anyone who has a lot of books, or someone you know who has put a great deal of time putting together a collection they want to keep or pass on. Basically, they are little pieces of card, which you can write your name on and stick into your books so everyone knows who that book belongs to. I also love that these are Beatrix Potter themed as I had the whole collection when I was younger (and hopefully still do- my book collection is everywhere) and loved them (and still do).

Bookplates

Notebook (with possible religious iconography) 

I get through notebooks with ridiculous speed so I am always very grateful to receive more of them. I’m not sure if the symbols on the front of this are religious, as I definitely think I see a cross. I don’t count myself belonging to any particular faith, though I don’t have any issues with using a notebook with this imagery unless anyone has any issues with me using it.

 

 

Leather gloves 

The last item I received are something I am going to give to another member of my family who is comfortable with wearing leather, as I’m not. I know my grandad wont ‘t offended by this (he probably did not know I don’t wear leather, as the subject hasn’t really come up between us).

Leather gloves

From my friend, Callie

My friend Callie was actually the one who made the cake in the main image for this article (with help from her friend Vickii who actually bakes for a living!). It was a glittery unicorn cake (as she knows I have a problem) with jelly beans in the middle (as I was really craving jelly beans the week before my birthday so subtly suggested they should be included in the cake).

Unicorn cake

Unfortunately because of the heat a lot of the roses melted but it still looked absolutely gorgeous (it also tasted amazing).

Inside of cake

The cake itself was raspberry and vanilla flavoured with funfetti sprinkles baked into the cake. It was also massive as you can tell from the picture above.

I actually have a video of me cutting into the cake and getting slightly stuck because I didn’t realise how big it was but I can’t upload it here, as it requires upgrading my WordPress plan (which, I really should probably do but I am also broke- the video is also not that interesting).

Pug Mug 

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a minor obsession with pugs! Though to clarify I want to make it clear that I believe breeders should be encouraged to breed pugs with other breeds to help their health problems or make sure they breed the pugs with the least health issues. One day I dream to have my own pug, who I will love more than anything (sorry Martin though you knew this was coming), but for now thanks to Callie I have my very own pug mug for hot chocolates and green tea, as they are the only hot drinks I drink!

 

 

Lime Crime Velventines True Love Set 

Lime Crime is cruelty free and vegan. Two things I look for in my makeup (as a rule I won’t wear anything that is not cruelty free, and I try to wear vegan makeup as much as possible). These shades are also beautiful, especially the darkest shade. I’ve told Callie (who is a makeup queen and needs to do my makeup one day) that I’ve wanted to try some darker shades, as I’ve only really wore light shades and this shade did not disappoint. It wasn’t too dark to overwhelm me and it had a nice warmth to it that compliments my pale, freckly skin. You can see the picture of me holding one of the roses Martin bought me above, or the image of me wearing the blue pendant my grandad bought me to see what it looks like on me!

True Love Lime Crime

Here’s also some swatches on my really hairy arms! If anyone has any swatches of this product on a darker skin tone to mine and is happy for me to include them in this blog post let me know! I’m sure though there is a lot of swatches online of this product- I just wanted to highlight what they look like on my complexion.

Lime Crime True Love swatches

Also, the brown shade is really far apart from the others because I’m an idiot basically. The swatches on my hand are also the opposite way round to how you see the shades in the picture with the packaging.

Jelly Bean Magnet 

I think the magnet says it all really…

Fridge magnet

Though to be clear I do actually consume a lot of vegetables because as a person I’m quite healthy apart from my massive sweet tooth.

Tinkerbell Notepad

Tinkerbell is small and sassy so therefore I feel like we connect on a spiritual level. I’m sure quite a few people who know me will agree.

Tinkerbell notepad

Martin’s family 

I won’t mention all of Martin’s family individually by name in case they don’t want me too but thank you all of you for my present and card. Special thanks to Martins’s mum especially for sending it in the post to me.

Fjallraven Kanken Pastel Pink Backpack 

I LOVE this. Seriously, it’s so comfy and I really don’t get the strain I’ve experienced with other backpacks on the back when I wear it. Ever since I got it I’ve took it with me everywhere and since my colour palette is pretty much either pastels or black it goes with everything. I would definitely recommend this backpack for university or college (as it has a built in system that ensures laptops, etc. will be kept upright) and also as a day backpack for travelling. In this weather (I am not enjoying the UK heatwave!) I also appreciate the two spaces at the side of the backpack where you can store water bottles.

It also makes me miss when my hair was this colour.

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

 

In my parcel was also a Cadbury’s bar but I’ve already demolished that so there’s no picture for that I’m afraid!

So that’s everything I got for my birthday this year! Despite the crisis it brought on I am thoroughly happy with everything I got and so grateful for everyone who liked me enough to buy me presents. I hope I can do as well as you all did for your birthdays!

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Childhood fashion staples that shouldn’t be the latest trend

Image: Pexels 

Before I start this (short) blog post I have to say that I love some of the pieces that have emerged from the 90s and early 2000’s revival that is occurring at the moment. Like, for example choker necklaces. But some of the pieces I’ve seen recently, although they’ve give me a glowing bit of nostalgia when I see them, have no place in my (semi) adult life.

  1. The hairbands of doom

I LOVED these when I was little. Though, I also loved a hairstyle that basically consisted of my mum putting my hair into several small ponytails, which I had poking out from every direction out of my head (which, I’ve recreated below). However, these hairbands also caused some serious injuries. Yes, those little rainbow ball hairbands from Topshop look cute but I remember the damage that those balls can do (not a sentence I thought I’d be writing anytime soon).

Image: Topshop on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest

Childhood HairImage: April is the Cruellest Month 

2. Double Denim

For those who are cooler than me and can pull this off I salute you. However, double denim has no place in my life. I think it’s because I still get horrible flashbacks to some of the truly awful combinations that came out of the trend in the early 2000’s.

3. Neon

Neon enthusiasts please do not take offence! First of all, neon now is a lot less all over, but despite this neon will not be having a place in my life anytime soon. Just because I definitely prefer a much more muted palette (ok, so basically I’m just obsessed with pastel colours). Saying that if I could pull them off I’d probably wear these.

Image: Topshop on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

This is more 80s than 90s but I’m not sure why this is allowed to exist in the world!

4. Visors

Just no. Maybe I’m just not cool enough for this but still no. Either wear a cap or don’t. Like the one in the Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf collection that is coming soon (on a side note if someone can just buy that whole collection for me it will be much appreciated).

Image: Topshop on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

However, I will forever thankful for the return of velvet (every Buffy fangirl’s dream).

If you like this post let me know and I’ll do a post with my favourite pieces that have come out of the 90s/ early 2000’s revival! Also, comment with your favourite childhood fashion staple of the childhood. Mine has to be the jelly sandals (which, are on sale at the moment FYI!!!). 

Image: Office on aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Pinterest 

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Feminist Reading Journey: Naomi Alderman ‘The Power’

This book has quickly become one of my new favourites. Seriously buy it. Read it. Especially if you’re interested in gender relations.

The narrative is set in the future but looking back on a significant change in human history that occured. That change is when the world switches from a patriarchal society to a matriarchal one. The switch occurs because women around the world, particularly teenage girls, start to discover that they have the power to emit electrical shocks, some stronger than others. Slowly, but surely, women then start to rise up. However, when the power shifts so do women’s attitudes.

The PowerImage: April Wilson 

I don’t want to give a lot more away than that, and hopefully I’ve not given away too much. I have to mention the negatives this power shift brings though because as the title suggests the book is very much focused on power balances. The idea being that if any group has too much power that power will be abused.

Since the novel is also called ‘The Power’ I thought then it would be apt to pick a quotation that exemplifies how masterly Naomi Alderman explores power relations within the novel.

As always the lovely Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective has provided the illustration for this post.

“One of them says, ‘Why did they do it?’ and the other one answers, ‘Because they could’. That is only answer there ever is.”

-Naomi Alderman 

The Power NaomiImage: The Kawaii Kollective 

For real life examples of how easy power relations can shift you only have to look at the Stanford Prison Experiment. For those who don’t know what the Stanford Prison Experiment is it was an experiment conducted by the psychologist Zimbardo in which he assigned a group of volunteers the role of either prisoner or guard for a 2 week simulated prison experiment.

Soon the prisoners started to protest the conditions, and the guards started to harass the prisoners, and become sadistic. Eventually after 6 days the experiment was ended by Zimbardo after he was told by an outsider (he had become too involved in the experiment) that the conditions lacked morality.

If you are interested in learning more, as I’ve only briefly described what happened and not gone into some of the sadistic, humiliating tactics that the guards used, I suggest you read ‘The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil‘ or watch the film based on the experiment simply called ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment‘ (be prepared for graphic content). If you are interested in more examples of similar effects you can look up the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities (be warned graphic images will most likely come up in your search).

Also in relation to power dynamics, the novel does an amazing job at showing the reactions of different groups such as feminist groups, anti-feminists and everyone in between on the debate feel when the power balance starts to shift. And that power shift does a brilliant job more than a lot of arguments I have seen at showing what the current power balance is in the world today.

The novel also reminded me of how much a dialogue does need to exist. I will admit it is hard for me to watch content by anti-feminists. I however am going to make an effort to do so and not instantly judge the content. To do this I am going to watch ‘The Red Pill’ documentary by documentary film maker Cassie Jaye about the men’s right movement From watching the trailer so far some of the arguments brought up I do agree with. There needs to be more men’s shelters and men who are victims of abuse need to be treated seriously. I however, argue this should be a feminist argument (not that it has not been made as one before) if feminism keeps to what I believe it to be: the pursuit of equality. I can’t comment more on the rest of their arguments however without seeing the documentary first.

I also have been taking into consideration the words of the youtuber Laci Green (who I also just discovered- I’m more than a little late to the Youtube world), who talked about the need for an open dialogue, and debate. Though I admit it can be hard I am always trying to learn, and I want to make the effort to do so.

One part of ‘The Power’ that I also think makes it so effective is the way it shifts across different narrative viewpoints. Something, which when it is done masterfully I absolutely love (and ‘The Power’ certainly fits this brief). Though, when it’s done horribly it’s just confusing and a mess. ‘The Power’ follows the viewpoints of Roxy, a Londoner whose family runs a significant crime syndicate, whose world turns upside down when discovering her power; Allie a teenager who after discovering her power reimagines herself as Mother Eve and starts a new women’s movement that brings the women in religion iconography to the forefront; Margot who aspires to move up in the American government (and her daughter Jocelyn whose power comes with some complications) and significantly the male Nigerian Tunde who discovers the power of citizen journalism, as he documents women as they start to discover their power and makes it his mission to map this new movement around the world.

Tunde as a character however is not the only way that Naomi Alderman does a brilliant job at exploring how this event would unfold through social media and website forums without being cringe-worthy, which you can sometimes find from authors who either has not spend enough time on social media; cannot seem to understand it or are not digital natives.

Overall, this is a book that needs to be on university reading lists (I haven’t included younger audiences just because of the graphic nature of one of the scenes), especially when talking about gender. A lot of the times university can look back (which I cannot stress is still an incredibly important thing to do) but this novel is important in that it looks at gender balance in terms of the current political climate, which is something we all need to be aware of and do more.

This also needs to be on a university course reading list so I could talk about this with other people interested in debating gender (though I’ve also finished my undergraduate, and will be finishing my postgraduate degree soon so university is for NOW almost over for me). However, if anyone wants to allow me to teach a module on contemporary gender studies go ahead… (I’d be excited to see what the class could teach me as well).

So basically if you haven’t got the message of this blog post yet it’s basically to just read ‘The Power’ already.

Update: This is in regards to ‘The Red Pill’ by Laci Green. I am still very new to the concept of feminist debate and critique (though I’ve been engaging with feminism for years) so was not sure what to think when I first saw the video. For me personally it reminded me that I need to be ready to take part in more debate (and try to be on the defensive automatically), though I did not entirely agree with the way Laci seemed to be attacking feminists more than anti-feminists (I understand both sides have faults but the debate seemed very one sided). However, if you’ve watched the video I also highly suggest you watch Kat Blaque’s response video, as she highlights many very important issues with the video.

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May for me has been the month of heat. I am pale, freckly and by all rights should have been naturally a ginger so heat does not sit well with me. However, despite having to invest in a fan because my flat has absolutely no air circulation; May has seen a whole lot of new favourites be added to my list of things I love. Hence, why I thought I would join the monthly favourites train!

So without further ado here are my favourites for this month…

Sailor Moon Crystal 

I’m incredibly late to the party with Sailor Moon but then again I’m kind of just incredibly late to the party with anime in general. However, I’m not going to lie I’ve always been a fan of the Sailor Moon aesthetic and I’ve watched what I would class as a few similar type shows such as W.I.T.C.H and Mew Mew Power.

I opted for Crystal because I knew it was a later incarnation of Sailor Moon, and I tried watching the original and found some of the commentary just that little bit dated. Also, from the few episodes I watched of the original Sailor Moon in comparison with what I’ve watched of Sailor Moon Crystal so far; Crystal is a lot more focused on the romance between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask (which, I’m so going to force my boyfriend to cosplay as with me for October MCM). Though I may just have not got enough episodes into the original anime so someone please correct me if I’m wrong!

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 21.21.04Image: Sailor Moon Crystal/ Toei Animation 

I can definitely see a bit of Buffy in Sailor Moon. Not only because she’s blond and has a brooding, dark haired handsome hero destined to be with her but because both Buffy and Sailor Moon are what society would deem as unlikely heroes. Though Buffy does kick a lot more butt (and generally has way better fight scenes). But like Buffy, Sailor Moon is the leader when she needs to be, and is not afraid to be the hero and be conventionally feminine at the same time.

I also like the way in which Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask look after each other, and save each other at various points (though Sailor Moon does fall off buildings and faint a lot). But yes, there are a few creepy romance moments á la Twilight.

With my criticisms taken into account however I still enjoy Sailor Moon, and I’m the kind of person that actually enjoys the criticisms as the academic side of me then has something to talk and write about.

In regards to my other criticism I will briefly mention them here. One such criticism that I have is that it is concerning when you think of the actual age of the characters compared to the age I argue they are depicted (though this is generally true of anime in general). Overall though the message of the show is quite mixed, and for beginners I think you need to go in taking the positives (women saving the day) and negatives of the show (lack of people of colour, confusing messages about girl power).

I’ve seen people describe Sailor Moon as being a force of positivity and empowerment for them so I think everyone needs to remember that side of the show (after all, Tuxedo Mask doesn’t have powers; he usually sits back as the Sailor Scouts save the day) when criticising some of the other aspects of the show.

However, I have not mentioned the main criticism I have about the series (that actually I find useful to compare to Buffy), as I will discuss that in a separate blog post, as I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible for anyone who has not seen the series yet.

I also love the fashion of Sailor Moon, and am considering starting a fashion series talking about the shows I love that I think have some great fashion moments. Maybe starting with Sailor Moon Crystal, and then moving onto to Buffy (which I will do season by season).

This idea was also partly inspired by an article on Buzzfeed about the fashion of Sailor Moon. As well as the amazing Twitter account Bad Buffy Outfits, which highlights some of the occasionally cringe-worthy 90s- early 00’s fashion on the show (not going to lie though I still love like 90% of it).

Also, before I finish talking about Sailor Moon I just wanted to mention that the images were sourced from this website, which someone took a lot of care and attention in getting the screenshots for, so be sure to check it out!

Dear White People 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this show. I haven’t finished it yet because my boyfriend has been *forcing* me to watch Parks and Recreation; but from what I have seen so far it’s  brilliant. The massive irony being of course that all those people complaining about the title are completely wrong (which, we knew anyway) as the strength of the show is that is shows the viewpoints and perspectives of everyone within the debate.

For those interested you can check out the show on Netflix.

Dear White PeopleImage: Logan Browning as Samantha White on Netflix’s Dear White People 

Emma Blackery 

I know for most people Emma Blackery is a proper old school Youtuber but I’ve only just properly got into Youtube (I’m sorry please don’t kill me). I’ve been enjoying her videos because she’s just relatable and honest in a way I wish I could be. I know that she does care but she does such a great job of pushing past that and giving her opinion while also reflecting on her self. She has definitely got me into vlogs, something I hope to eventually do with this blog!

Also, in regards to her music, ‘Don’t Come Home‘ (from what I can gather I should point out that I am talking about the latest version) is definitely my favourite single from her.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 15.55.34Image: Emma Blackery in her ‘Don’t Come Home‘ video 

Paramore- After Laughter 

First of all, for those who are old school Paramore fans like me, don’t get me wrong I miss the more rock elements of Paramore but I don’t hate the new songs and their aesthetic. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to listening to the new album pretty consistently since it was released. The stand out tracks on the album for me are ‘Pool’ and ‘Rose Colored Boy’.

Paramore Told You SoImage: Paramore, ‘Told You So’ video (Hayley’s makeup and overall look is goals) 

Pop Figures 

So I finally bought my first ever POP figures at MCM London Comic Con!!!

Sailor MoonImage: April Wilson

Since Sailor Moon has become my new obsession I got a Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask POP! figure because I’ve always liked the idea of having the POP figures for the characters I have cosplayed or plan to cosplay.

However, I’m starting to feel a deep infinity to Sailor Venus/ Sailor Mercury so am considering changing cosplay plans but it’d be easier to source a Tuxedo Mask costume.

Nooderella

I’ve been a fan of the Youtuber Noodlerella for a while now but I’m mentioning her on my May favourites list because I had the opportunity to meet her at MCM London Comic Con where she signed one of her prints for me! I should have got a photograph but I was a bit too shy but if she is at comic con in October I am determined to get over my shyness and ask her.

I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the sweatshirt she is wearing in the print I bought and managed to find what I think is the same version (though it is a design I have found in different colours on a few websites so I’m not sure if the version I found is the original). I’d love to buy it but since it’s so hot at the moment I am struggling to justify it!

Image: @noodlerella/ Twitter (the print I got is the second picture)

 

Geeky Clean 

I became aware of this company from seeing their stand at MCM London Comic Con. Basically, they sell geeky themed bath stuff and candles. And everything is vegan! I can tell you from first hand experience that their Butterbeer (which, is out of stock, and I am incredibly devastated) and Unicorn Breakfast candle smell divine.

They also offer monthly subscription boxes and this month’s box is Game of Thrones themed to celebrate the new season that is coming out in July. I’m planning to subscribe and do a review here so watch this space!

Image: @geekyclean/Instagram 

So here’s my monthly favourites for May! Let me know if anyone is a fan of anything I’ve mentioned or has any recommendations of things they’d like me try and review for June. I’m already planning to finally invest in some Tsum Tsums because I’m obsessed with them!

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!

 

 

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.

Just you know ignore the mess in the background… 😂and my bleach stained towel. And focus on the gingham 💙

A post shared by April Wilson (@aprilisthecruellestmonth) on

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.

Riverdale’s Archie and Miss Grundy and the worrying repeated sexualisation of student-teacher relationships

Image: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix 

Student-teacher sexual/romantic relationships are so common in media, particularly in TV that they are regarded as a trope of the genre. So it was unsurprising that the trope showed up in the latest teen drama on Netflix, Riverdale.

What is disappointing about this however isn’t the trope itself but how so far it is being handled. It was stated within the first episode that Archie (KJ Apa) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) are in their Sophomore year at High school. Now I’m not American so I had to do some googling to find out what age that actually is, and according to my findings that puts Archie and Betty at 15-16 years old canonically. Yet, the relationship between Archie and Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel) is heavily sexualised within the show, and depicted as ‘wrong’ but in the sense that the relationship is ultimately romantic. And it is society that does not understand the relationship, and the relationship itself is pure and ultimately acceptable.

And this is a common reoccurring theme when student-teacher relationships are presented on screen. Now, I mentioned the age of Archie before, which although is of importance in terms of consent laws in America (though I know this changes state by state); the real reason Archie cannot consent is because she is his teacher and in a position of power because of that. From the beginning of our schools lives we are taught to always obey the teacher, refer to them formally and treat them with respect. Teachers we are taught have authority over students. Consequently, Archie can never hope to achieve equal power status in their relationship.

In fact, this is shown to a disturbing degree when he stresses (*plot spoilers ahead*) that they need to go to the police about the gun shot they heard on the 4th July, as it could possibly help the police in the case of Jason Blossom’s (Trevor Stines) death but she stresses that they can’t because they’ll both get in trouble, not just her. He could get expelled she stresses. For what? Having an affair with a teacher? He is not the one to blame.

Archie and Mrs GrundyImage: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix 

Right from the first sexual encounter we see of them their relationship is treated as something sexual, hot and steamy, just like the windows of the car that fog up in the screen capture that Netflix uses to advertise the show. That this is the image that advertises the show is important. Netflix has done extensive research on what images inspire someone to click on a show, as artwork in a study Netflix conducted in 2014 was revealed to be the biggest influencer to a member’s decision to watch content. It seems pretty obvious why Netflix thinks this image would attract an audience: sex sells. Even sex that in my view would constitute as a sex in a relationship where one half couldn’t fully consent.

One thing I will say in defence of Riverdale is that they make it clear that this relationship cannot last, just like Miss Grundy’s place in Riverdale. However, she manages to escape with no consequences other than losing her job. Although her leaving scene where she smiles at two members of the football team through red heart sunglasses (ironically very reminiscent of Lolita) hints that maybe this is not the first time she has pursued such a relationship, and subsequently that the relationship she had with Archie was not fair to him.

I do really hope that the show will pick up what they have hinted on, as the show has been refreshingly transgressive in other ways (though you’d hope by 2017 this still wouldn’t be something I’d have to call transgressive) with the way they exposed the football players ‘playbook’ and highlighted the very real and scary slut shaming that still happens in schools today (on that note if you haven’t already watch the Netflix documentary Audrie and Daisy do so). Also, the way they handled Archie writing songs for Josie and the Pussycats and the discussion that Josie (Ashleigh Murray) brought up surrounding race, and how although Archie thinks he can understand, but he never can fully relate because he has not been a victim of racism, was brilliant.

Josie RiverdaleImage: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix 

Ethel RiverdaleThe playbook storyline also featured Shannon Purser (famous for her role as Barb in Stranger Things) as Ethel. Image: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix .

However, in regards to the troubling storyline between Archie and Miss Grundy I am not the only one to think this about the show. Internet superstar, Felicia Day tweeted about the storyline saying: “If the sexes were reversed on Archie and Ms Grundy no one would be ok with this storyline”, followed by the hashtag #callthecopsplease.

Source: @feliciaday/ Twitter 

But in TV world this is not necessarily the case, as you only have to look at the relationship between Aria (Lucy Montgomery) and Ezra (Ian Harding) in Pretty Little Liars. Now, I haven’t watched every season of Pretty Little Liars to know where they end up in their relationship but I’ve seen how their relationship started.

In the TV show at least Ezra mistakes Aria for a college girl (which Aria lets him do), they hit it off, and ‘hook up’ in the bathroom of a bar. However, at school Aria then walks into class to realise the person she ‘hooked up’ with is in fact her English teacher.

Now, as stated this relationship started with Ezra not knowing who Aria was, however, they later end up rekindling their relationship with Ezra knowing full well he is her teacher now. Although, I know he later breaks up the relationship again in what is a bit of a cycle and quits his teacher position so they can have a relationship (ending the teacher-student power dynamic issues); however, that doesn’t change the fact that the added student-teacher part of their relationship is treated like ‘forbidden love’, and something romantic because of the danger behind it.

Romanticising these encounters is dangerous as it makes student-teacher relationships a desirable fantasy in teenager’s minds. Regardless, of what you want to argue about how the relationships I’ve talked about may occupy a more ‘grey’ area; the people watching the show might be in a completely different situation and use the show’s example to justify it.

Now, let me be clear I fight against the standpoint that films and TV cause behaviour we wouldn’t commit without their example. Horror movies in my mind do not a serial killer make but there is a difference between showing violent acts, and condoning the behaviour and making it something desirable.

And student-teacher relationships should not be depicted as desirable because it is a couple that can never hope to have equal footing in their relationship (regardless of any other age issues) and these relationships should not be treated as ‘forbidden romance’ but an unfair, and unequal illusion.

Picnic Ms Grundy ArchieImage: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix