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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: A screen capture from Peter Pan/ Walt Disney 

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

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

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

Lazy Oaf April Beret

An awkward picture of me wearing the beret.

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

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

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

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

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

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

🍂April🍂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Comics I’m loving at the moment

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

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

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

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

Snotgirl 

Image Comics

Story: Bryan Lee O’Malley

Artwork: Leslie Hung 

Snotgirl Comic

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

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

Or as better explained by the official synopsis:

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

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

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

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

Paper Girls 

Image Comics 

Story: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Cliff Chiang

Paper Girls 1

PaperGirls 2

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

The synopsis as usual explains it better than me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

🍂April🍂

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Little Viking Vintage: Interview

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

Little Viking Vintage 2

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

How did Little Viking Vintage start? 


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

Little Viking Vintage 3

Inside Little Viking Vintage.

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


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

Ballerina dress

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

20s kimono

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

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


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

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


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

Little Viking Vintage Store

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

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


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

Little Viking Vintage 4

Inside Little Viking Vintage. 

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


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

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


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

Gold Chanel Bag

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

Do you have a favourite fashion era?


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

Have you ever sold a piece and then regretted it?


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

What’s your favourite season?


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

Little Viking Vintage

Inside Little Viking Vintage. 

What inspirations do you draw your style/ aesthetic from?

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

Do you have any style icons?

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

What is about vintage fashion that has you hooked?

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

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Feminist Reading Journey: Alice Walker ‘The Color Purple’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Color Purple

Image: @aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Instagram 

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

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

The Color Purple The Kawaii Kollective

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

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

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

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

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

🍂April🍂

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I’ve officially finished my Masters degree

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

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

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

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

Mind (mental health charity)

0300 123 3393

info@mind.org.uk
Text: 86463

https://www.mind.org.uk

The Samaritans (free support for anyone who needs it) 

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

jo@samaritans.org

https://www.samaritans.org

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

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

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

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

🍂April🍂

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Vintage Spots: Little Viking Vintage (St Albans)

While I used to be an avid vintage collector; I have to admit over the last few years, my passion dwindled a bit. I think this was because despite being close to London where there are loads of amazing vintage clothes shops; I had lost the connection that I had with my favourite vintage shops in Lincoln. On that note if you ever find yourself in Lincoln I recommend visiting Tasty Vintage.

I also did not find a place I enjoyed that was in close proximity (and not as expensive to travel to as London). I did visit The Vintage Emporium in St Albans and found a few bits every so often, but the focus of the store (lots of different vendors make up the store so its quite eclectic) was not quite my aesthetic. I also think being a vegetarian in a vintage shop can be a little odd at times, as generally there will be real fur coats, as well as leather (I’ve discussed my stance on this a bit more in this post but generally I have no personal problem if you’re a vegetarian/ vegan and want to wear vintage items with animal products, but personally for me I just don’t feel comfortable doing so).

I however recently found myself visiting Little Viking Vintage, which is hidden away in the town centre of St Albans. And ever since going there I have found myself falling back in love with vintage again. The place may be small, but its a little treasure trove and because of the location I’ve never been in there with more than another person looking at the same time. You can tell that its more like someone selling curated pieces of a collection rather than all the stock they could possibly get their hands on (which some vintage shops I have visited have given me the impression of) by the specialness of the stock. There’s so many beautiful and unique pieces that I could spend hours there- and I’ve never once felt by any staff member that I couldn’t, as they just let you look as you please. Though on that note the owner of the shop is genuinely lovely, and a pleasure to talk with. She very kindly reserved a gorgeous top for me, as well as bought from me a faux fur leopard vintage coat I owned and loved (but sadly was just never going to wear).

Mustard 70s top(I hope to do a proper Autumn fashion lookbook soon, which will hopefully feature this top.)

Butterfly Bag

Vintage Straw Bag

Vintage(I ;ove these but they’re not my size and I feel like they are most likely leather.) 

Printed shirt

Apologises for the lack of photographs, there was someone else in the shop when I took these and although they were lovely (and I asked the owner if i could take photographs and she very graciously said I could); I still felt too nervous to do a proper job.

Let me know if you’re interested in vintage fashion and would like to see more of these kinds of posts. I also would love to do an interview with the owner of the shop so if you have any questions you’d like answering, comment below! As it will also give me an opportunity to revisit the shop and take some proper photographs of some of the gorgeous treasures they have.

🍂April🍂

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Update: What’s happening with my Feminist Reading Journey

Image: Pexels 

It’s been a lot more than a hot minute since I’ve written a post for my feminist reading journey series so I thought now would be a good time to have a bit of a catch up and discuss what’s happening with the series. So sit down, have a cup of tea (or if you are like me and hate tea, another beverage) and settle into this short and sweet post. To put it simply, I’m bringing the feminist reading journey posts back. Although, I’ve said in the past that they will be every two weeks; I think for everyone’s sanity including my own- more sporadic than that might be better but I will see how it goes.

I will be relaunching the series next week with a post about The Color Purple. I’m not sure what day the post will be out yet, but it will be an additional post to my normal Monday and Friday posts. Posts in this series I’ve decided will always be like that (apart from this one now), as I feel like putting the series in my regular content will limit my content a bit.

After that I’ve devised a line up (in no particular order) of books I’m hoping to complete by the end of the year. I’ve tried to pick up a line up from authors with a variety of different backgrounds and from different positions- as I always want the books I’m reading to not necessarily be books I know I’m going to agree with. I also think there is something interesting seeing how feminism has changed throughout the generations. The books I picked also discuss a variety of issues that I’ve not explored as of yet, including where body image stands in feminism, and I will also be looking in more detail about gender’s place within feminism- specifically looking at a novel by Kate Bornstein (a transgender author- I mention this only because it is important that transgender individuals are able to tell their own narrative), which ‘offers alternatives to suicide for queer youth struggling to be themselves’.

So without any more of my ramblings here is what is coming up. Next week when I post my The Color Purple post I will announce, which novel is coming next, and so on and so forth. So if you want to read along with me please ensure you check where I am at the end of each post. I’m also going to try to post my reading updates on my Twitter so make sure to follow me there: @aprilcruelmonth.

  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
  • Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire by Sonia Shah
  • Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach
  • Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis
  • Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
  • Hello Cruel World by Kate Bornstein
  • The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (to check out my post on Milk and Honey click here.)

So there we have it. Who know if I will be able to get all of these completed by the end of the year, but here’s hoping. If you have any more suggestions, please let me know.

🍂April🍂

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My Cruelty Free Journey

Image: Pexels (so is free from attribution, but I’m putting the attribution here in case anyone wants to use the image!)

So I think it’s appropriate to start this post by saying that I’ve been a vegetarian for quite a long time now. Although, I can’t exactly remember the year I fully committed (there were a few failed attempts before then); I think it was about aged 16. So about 5-6 years of vegetarianism is probably a good estimate.

For a while I was afraid to admit this, but at the start of being a vegetarian I didn’t really at first catch on to the other animal products that surrounded me like leather, etc. I finally did however realise and started to genuinely phase leather items out, though I will admit this was not without me failing a few times because I put fashion above my beliefs. I do now though only own leather items that I bought quite a long time ago now (and are up for sale on Depop, unfortunately no one wants them). Although, I have put my items up for sale; I personally can’t just throw those items away, as that to me personally feels more like a waste; but at the same time I feel uncomfortable wearing the items.

So basically what I am trying to say is I understand the struggle, and would never call you out for what you wanted to wear. I also love vintage clothing, and can understand why people might be alright with wearing vintage leather (or even fur, though personally, although I know it is skin like leather, real fur has always felt more ‘icky’ to me). I however do not feel comfortable personally with that either, though if you’re vegetarian (or even vegan) and want to buy vintage leather items- go ahead- like I’ve mentioned I think it’s worse to just waste the suffering of the animal and throw the item away. I also think it’s ok if you like a vintage bag for example but the strap is leather (but not the main part of the bag) and tell the store to keep the leather strap to use on another bag, and then replace the strap with a faux leather one (you can find them quite cheap online). There is then always ways to make a item work. I also mentioned the bag idea, as this is something I am considering doing- if you have any thoughts on this ethically let me know, as I’d like to hear opinions.

This dilemma is also part of the reason I decided to make this post, as I am still not fully through my transition and fully cruelty free in my life. I think part of the reason is because when I started this journey I didn’t realise how many things are not cruelty free, which I will talk more about later within this post.

Clothing 

So there are a number of different materials to consider with clothing, and those are leather (and suede), silk (there is however a cruelty free silk option so make sure to always do your research), fur, and for some people wool.

The most prolific of these items that you are most likely going to encounter however is leather, which nowadays is not that hard to avoid with high street clothing retailers often opting for cheaper faux-leather alternatives for their items. Higher end items however are mostly leather and a lot harder to avoid though Stella McCartney and Moschino (I don’t think this is true for all their range however but I know that some of their range is- so make sure to check!) are known for their leather free ranges. As for the high street just make sure to look up the product online before you buy it, as it will say if the product is made out of leather in the product description. Topshop, for example, are about 50/50 with their shoes though I’ve noticed unfortunately that more and more are starting to be leather- you can usually tell however by the higher price bracket before you even look at the item. Leather gloves whatever the shop always seem to be real leather so to be honest I would just avoid them.

If you’re looking for a little stress in your shopping routine Iron Fist shoes are vegan and free from leather, and they are known for their alternative designs. For vegan bags (and shoes I just recently realised) check out Matt and Nat ,who are on the pricey side but are effortlessly stylish and chic (definitely one for those times when you are trying to be all chic and Parisian). I’ve also noticed that Unif stock loads of vegan leather products (I’m not sure if they stock anything leather, though if I was going out a limb I don’t think they do- definitely check though), and are a great alternative brand- they’re a little like Lazy Oaf in execution but much more about the cleaner lines and tighter fit (they also have a bit more of a straight up 90s vibe going on). A lot of the amazing shoes stocked on DollsKill (like all the amazing Current Mood ones) are usually vegan/ not leather (but make sure to check, as I know they have a few styles that are leather). Also, if you’re like me and obsessed with Dr Martens (I do still have a pair that I saved, and saved for but that I feel weird wearing now that are on my Depop) then they do a vegan range. However,  unfortunately their collaborations are usually not vegan so no, Adventure Time (please, please, Dr Martens on the very unlikely chance you are reading this bring out vegan versions of these designs) or Lazy Oaf collaboration for me!

I’ve also noticed that in regards to brands like Vans, Converse and Adidas, and all the similar brands that are popular right now (due to sporty casual making a comeback) that some of their shoes are vegan, but some are not- so be sure to look out for that!

Makeup 

So makeup and whether or not certain brands are cruelty free is being talked about a lot recently, which is amazing. It also gets a bit confusing, as often I see one source telling me a brand is cruelty free and another telling me it is not. Therefore, I thought I’d sum up all the information I’ve gathered about what someone means when they say a product is not entirely cruelty free. Also, I’ve put skincare on a separate post, as I personally don’t tend to buy my skin care stuff from the same brand that I get my makeup from.

Ok, so first of all a brand may be cruelty free but that doesn’t necessarily mean their products are entirely vegan- so they may for example still have dyes in their eyeshadows like carmine (or cochineal), which is essentially made from crunched up insects. At the moment, my makeup bag is cruelty free (minus a few old products that I don’t use but just have not got round to throwing out/ seeing if a family member/ friends wants it) but not vegan, however I am striving to have it both cruelty free and vegan in the near future.

The other confusing bit in regards to makeup being cruelty free involves China. Essentially to sell a product in China, the makeup then has to be tested on animals (though makeup produced in China does not have to go through this testing so theoretically companies could sell in China and be cruelty free by having a factory in China to distribute products there- as far as I’m aware) so therefore retailers who sell in China are not classified as cruelty free, though they themselves do not necessarily test on animals.

To make it a bit simpler here is a list of all the companies that test on animals. However, there is then another issue that arises in regards to cruelty free. This is when a parent company, basically the big organisation that owns lots of smaller makeup brands (L’Oreal is a good example, as they basically own everything) is not cruelty free but the company itself is. An example of this is the brand Too Faced who are generally considered a brand in their own right and describe themselves as cruelty free with a lot of their products being vegan. However, in 2016 they were acquired by Estee Lauder who are not cruelty free. There is also a lot of other controversy surrounding the brand regarding the Youtuber Nikkie Tutorials, which I won’t get into but if you’re interested you can read about. Especially, as a lot of this as far as I’m aware is speculation. So brands with a parent company that are not cruelty free obviously are a bit of a grey area, as it means that your money still ends up going to a place that condones testing on animals. I think parent companies are basically up to each individual to decide on, but if you want to buy products from them still I don’t think it’s something to destroy an individual over (though just to note I don’t think you should ever aim to destroy an individual) if they are someone who says they are cruelty free.

Also, if you’re like me and a fan of some of the Japanese/ Korean makeup trends (mostly because they often do cute collaborations with Disney or Pokémon) I’m afraid these brands tend not to be cruelty free. For some interesting information regarding this see this post on Soko Glam, which also discusses how it is possible to sell some makeup products in China, without having to have the ingredients tested on animals.

If you’re looking for a list of cruelty free brands check out this list by Cruelty-Free Kitty, as it is by far one of the most definitive and informative lists out there. Basically, check out their site if you want to know more about going cruelty free and what brands are and aren’t. Personally, if you want great brands that are cruelty free I’d recommend Kat Von D and Urban Decay.

Perfume 

One thing I never thought about being cruelty free is perfume. Something, which was particularly sad for me to realise, as my favourite perfume of all time is Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, and is actually very comforting to me. However, a while ago I finished the bottle Martin bought me (he bought it ages ago), and have decided from now on to only use cruelty free scents, which trust me is easier said than done (as unlike makeup the options are a lot fewer).

There are though options out there. Honey Pop Kisses in fact did an amazing post on this, which I suggest you look at for suggestions or again turn to the always great Cruelty-Free Kitty. Also, Kat Von D Beauty recently came out with two perfumes Saint and Sinner that I’m going to assume are cruelty free, since Kat Von D has took a very public stance on this, but I have emailed them to check and will update this post once I’ve received a response.

Nail Varnish

I don’t often paint my nails but I really want to more, and when I looked at my cupboard of ancient nail varnishes I came to the conclusion that pretty much all of them are not likely to be cruelty free. However, after a quick search I was happy to see, that a few brands like ORLY that I expected not to be cruelty free, are.

If you want to see a list of cruelty free and vegan nail polishes click here, or if you want to see 5 vegan nail polish brands (that are more UK based, and include brands like Barry M, who are cruelty free, with some of their products being vegan) click here. Both lists are definitely something which I think are useful to have with you when visiting the nail salon so you can quickly and easily make sure your selection is cruelty free!

Other beauty essentials 

Other beauty things you have to look out for are bath bombs/ general bath stuff. I’ve mentioned Lush’s policy in my latest Lush post for all those interested but there are some great companies out there (usually independents are a great place to look) like Geeky Clean that are cruelty free and vegan. The Body Shop, a old school cruelty free brand and fighter against animal testing has come under fire as they were recently acquired by L’Oréal (who are not cruelty free). However, L’Oréal recently sold the brand to Natura Cosmetics who are reportedly cruelty free (they have not been certified by a board like Cruelty Free International but as a company they have stated they are cruelty free).

In regards, to shower gel I know that Original Source products are generally vegan  and they do smell great. However, I have not found anything definitive to say they are cruelty free so I’m probably going to stop using them, but will email them if anyone would like me to!

Skincare is also something to pay attention to, particularly sunscreen (click the link for some cruelty free brands) but also look up whether your moisturiser, spot cream etc. contains animal products/ is cruelty free. I’d recommend trying to avoid supermarkets and bigger chains and trying to do your skin care routine from somewhere you know to be cruelty free and clearly labels their products, as being either vegetarian or vegan, like Lush (though whether you consider Lush to be cruelty free is up to you- see this post mentioned earlier). Or of course just look up your products before you buy them, though this could end up with you having to do a bit of the emailing and probably a lot of frustration.

Deodorant is something else to look out for and one of those products that I did not even think about. I have a can that I need to finish but soon as that is gone I will be trying out some new products (let me know if a cruelty free deodorant review series is actually something you’d all want!). However, I haven’t found a definitive list of which brands are not cruelty free, so I recommend just looking up your deodorant bottle (if you want me to compile a list let me know). For now here’s a list of 5 cruelty free deodorants that reportedly work and a list helpful for those of us in the UK (since I have a Holland and Barret’s really close to where I live I definitely will be trying out Dr. Organic soon).

So there we have it! My complete list of all the things I’ve started to consider on my cruelty free journey. This post is not designed to lecture you, but as a helpful guide for those looking into being cruelty free in their ‘beauty’ routine or for those who are cruelty free. Also, if I have made any mistakes in this post please let me know, as obviously I don’t want to tell people whether things are cruelty free or not, and then that information be incorrect. If I’ve missed something important out please also let me know, as a lot of this is still very new to me!

If you’ve enjoyed this post let me know, as I’d love to do a ‘Home’ (so cleaning products, etc.) version of this post, as that for me is the next planned stage of my cruelty free journey once I’ve fully completed this stage.

🍂April🍂

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