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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Reviewing Youtuber books: Emma Blackery ‘Feel Good 101’

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Blackery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🍂April🍂

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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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Feminist Reading Journey: Margaret Atwood ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Let me start this by saying no I haven’t seen the Hulu TV series yet but I fully intend to! This post however isn’t about the tv series, or the film adaptation, it’s about the novel. I actually read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ as part of my undergraduate university degree, but I had read the novel before then because, well, because I like reading!

I also want to quickly address for anyone following this series that I will be reading some new books soon, and the series will be continuing. It’s just on a little bit of a hiatus while I try to finish my dissertation and sort my life out. When it properly comes back I’ll make a blog post letting everyone know, and hopefully have my reading list on there in advance so people can read along with me if they want to. I also want to take more care with the authors I select so that I can actually start to read a variety of different experiences. I try and make my feminism intersectional, and I know at the moment I’m not doing my best to represent that in these blog posts. In terms of a time scale, posts will also be every 2 weeks so that they are not rushed. However, for everyone who hasn’t been reading the rest of my blog posts, sorry about that ramble, and don’t worry I’m going to get on to this blog post now.

First of all, there is a reason that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a classic, and for those of you who have burned before (like me) by the term ‘classic’ being bestowed upon a book because it is incredibly long and difficult to follow; don’t worry this isn’t the case here. The story (for those who don’t know) follows a woman called Offred (though this isn’t her ‘real’ name) and her life as a handmaid in the fictional dystopian future of Gilead (a military dictatorship). Her position as a handmaid in this dictatorship means that she is kept for reproductive purposes and her ‘job’ is to reproduce in an elaborate ceremony with The Commander (the male head of the household she lives at) with his wife attending (it’s as bad as it sounds).

Image: @aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Instagram 

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot than that as I don’t want to ruin anything, but think about the way reproductive rights are in the US (and continue to be in Northern Ireland, and other countries in which there are restrictions on abortion laws or abortion is illegal) and you get a sense of what is going on. Although, there was some positive news recently that women from Northern Ireland will be able to get an abortion in Britain for free. However, this verdict also came on the same day that: “Belfast’s Court of Appeal ruled abortion law in Northern Ireland should be left to the Stormont Assembly, not judges – effectively overturning an earlier ruling that the current abortion laws were incompatible with human rights laws” (Source: BBC News).

While a lot of people might argue that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is not necessarily about abortion (which, I agree with to a certain extent); because in the tale the women desire to have a baby. However, they are still being controlled and forced into that one position- their reproductive rights are being taken away from them. I’m also not the only one to have made this link as women have been seen sporting robes similar to the ones depicted in the Hulu TV series in a number of protests related to reproductive rights and the fight against misogyny.

It for this reason that the quotation I ended up choosing is: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. And this week the quotation is very apt not only in terms of equality, but in my own life. I’m coming up to the period where I’m at a bit of a transitional period in my life where I’m not quite sure where I will end up or where I will be. There is something also truly horrible in not knowing, which I hate more than just generally being in a horrible situation. However, I know I’ve just got to get on with it and things will turn around. And at a much faster rate than if I just let life take me where it may. But it’s hard, and I know my friends are finding hard, so basically in a round about way I just want to say if you’re finding everything hard that’s ok. Just try your best to let someone know that you’re finding it hard.

As always the quotation for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has been beautifully illustrated by  Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective:

The Handmaid's Tale Image

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

In regards, to the quotation it is also incredibly relevant recently, as the fight for equality has felt difficult, especially with the series of headlines hitting the media regarding gender parity. Perhaps, the most famous of which is the news of the gender wage gap within the BBC, as well as the controversy surrounding the price of the morning after pill in Boots. Especially, considering Boots’ response that if the pill was priced cheaper it might mean that Boots is “incentivising inappropriate use”. Now then more than ever we need to be banding together to fight for change, while not letting these hits grind us down. And there has already been action with a number of female stars from the BBC acting together to write a letter urging the director general to fix the pay gap.

And this links to the main thing I have seen written about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and that is that the story is not just a tale: but a warning or a sign of what is happening in our world (particularly, in the Global North, and specifically in America right now). I’ve touched on this already by discussing some of the restrictions placed on women having an abortion, but there is much more that is happening against gender equality and equal rights for everyone whatever gender they identify as (I don’t mean this remark as a flippant ‘whatever’ but as a way to include the variety of different genders people identify as) in Trump’s America.

The author of the article I just linked under ‘gender equality’ also mentions how President Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. In fact he actually pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, which is horribly ironic considering that the reason why the majority of people in Gilead are infertile is due to radioactive pollution.

Many of the practices within the novel are also present within other countries in the world not just America, particularly regarding same sex love  (in the novel women are circumcised as a punishment for this, and this is something that is still carried out today though not necessarily as a punishment for homosexuality). This practice may be more familiar to you under the name FGM or Female Genital Mutilation, which can “lead to severe bleeding, pain, complete loss of sensitivity, complications during childbirth, infertility, severe pain during sex, recurring infections and urine retention. And in some cases it is lethal. Unlike male circumcision, female genital mutilation also inhibits sexual pleasure”.

I think then now is a good a time as ever to read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (perhaps the best time) and think about how the practices described are similar or the same to practices inflicted against either gender (as there is not a lot of mention in the novel of how these practices would affect people who exist outside the gender identities of male or female) within the world. Think about then how the world Atwood describes would be like for those who exist out of the 2 gender binaries just mentioned. Most of all, write, talk and protest about the injustices that too closely mirror our own.

After all, Margaret Atwood is being heralded as the ‘voice of 2017‘ so you might as well see for yourself what she has to say. As for me I’m finally going to watch the TV show, and not let anyone grind me down any longer.

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Feminist Reading Journey: Marge Piercy ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

I’m happy to be back with another post in my feminist reading journey (here’s hoping I can start posting more regularly again). This time I’m focusing on Marge Piercy’s ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’, which is actually something I read in my undergraduate degree, but decided to revisit for this series. Not only because I didn’t have enough money to buy a new book but also because it is a real interesting book in terms of gender.

The novel follows Consuelo (Connie) Ramos, an Hispanic woman who is forcibly committed to a mental institution (somewhere she has been in the past for drug fuelled child abuse, which caused her to lose custody of her daughter) for fighting back against the man who was trying to force her niece Dolly to have a ‘backstreet’ abortion. In her time in the mental institution she is visited (it is never revealed if this is imaginary or not) by someone from the future called Luciente. Through Luciente Connie is able to visit the future, which a communal community where the prejudices of Connie’s time are seemingly eradicated.

Woman On The Edge Of TimeImage: aprilisthecruellestmonth/Instagram 

I won’t gave anything more away from that but let me just say there is a reason this is a classic utopian fiction novel. Though I think utopian fiction somehow doesn’t always shock as much as dystopian fiction. Something maybe, which is indicative of how we don’t notice problems until the worse happens. Hence, the increased amount of social and political commentary and criticism since Donald Trump has become President (which, I’m not saying is a bad thing). The reality of Connie’s life though is incredibly brutal and the dystopia in itself (though tragically just reality), although another dystopian future alternative to Mattapoisett (this is the residence that Connie visits in the future through Luciente) is also explored.

The future world basically plays out the core ideas of the women’s movement at the time, which we know widely have moved on to from in order to incorporate not just one perspective, and is what you will probably know as intersectional feminism. However, the novel does not ignore issues of racism, classism, homophobia or issues surrounding the destruction of the environment so is more intersectional than a lot of the critique from the era (and still that appears today).

Also, to understand Connie’s experience of the mental institution better and the concept of different experiences I think its useful to compare Connie experiences with the experiences related in Girl, Interrupted. Both woman suffer from a lack of privacy, and their agency removed. However, Susanna (played by Winona Ryder) in the film adaptation comes from what appears to be a middle class background and is white (at least this is the case for the film- I have read the book but can’t remember if there was any direct references to financial background). While her experiences in the mental institution are far from therapeutic if something happened to Susanna there would be people that would care, and it would not be as easily dismissed. However, it is important to note in the 1960s in general using psychiatry to control women was still commonplace (and actively criticised by the feminist movement) with Diazepam (Valium), which became known as ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ regularly prescribed to woman to cope with the pressures of being a housewife.

Themes, which were present in Season 1 of the popular show Mad Men, where Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) is told by his wife’s (Betty Draper portrayed by January Jones) psychiatrist what they discuss during their sessions. The way it is framed suggests that this behaviour is most definitely commonplace, and all it did was serve to infantilise Betty even further (which, was arguably contributed to her needing to seek help in the first place).

Betty Draper Mad MenImage: Mad Men/ AMC/ Lionsgate Television

However, there are fewer narratives of what the experience of being a mental institution is like for a woman of colour (this novel being the first I have personally come across), with the general psychiatric patient presented to us by the media as thin, white and generally ‘misunderstood’ (thereby trivialising mental illness). Even depictions in film  that are regarded as doing a good job at exploring mental illness, I have not personally seen show the experiences of a woman of colour experiencing mental illness (if there are examples, please direct me to them).

This is why Piercy’s novel is refreshing, and although as far as I can tell the experiences in the novel do not come from her personal biography, for the novel Marge Piercy was careful to talk to, “past and present inmates of mental institutions who shared their experiences with me” (taken from the acknowledgements page of the novel).

One other important theme within the novel is family, and the expectation that a woman should live only for her family. Connie is a primary example of this, as she is expected by members of her family (especially her brother) to be subservient and grateful no matter what. Because she’s a woman. She also carries the guilt of what happened with her daughter during the time she was going through the grief of losing someone dear to her. Everything Connie does is tied to family, and all the blood, sweat and tears she has lost because of them is dismissed. It is what she is supposed to do.

Hence, why I chose this quote from the novel for this blog post, which has been illustrated by the lovely Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective:

“You’ll do what women do. You’ll pay your debt to your family for your blood.”

Marge Piercy

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

‘Woman on the Edge Of Time’ is heartbreaking, defiant and hopeful all at once and that is why it is a classic piece of both feminist and utopian literature. Whether you are living in a situation where the prejudices against you are depicted still exist entirely or not this is an important novel to remind yourself that preventing these experiences is something that has been fought for a long time, and we should not let ourselves revert back.

 

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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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