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The uncensored voice of women today


one-off lovely big issue GBP £2.00


Illustration by Hanna Shepherdson

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BLOOM. THE UNCENSORED VOICE OF WOMEN TODAY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Shannon Hodge @shanhodge CHIEF ILLUSTRATOR Hanna Shepherdson @hannasringlets FEATURES EDITOR Shannon Hodge @shanhodge SEX EDITOR Girl On The Net @girlonthenet HEALTH EDITOR Abby Sterry @abbysterry

Girl On The Net who wrote “Rebranding Feminism: The Planning Meeting” and “On Sexy Pictures And Shame” is an anonymous online sex blogger at She has also had her work published on other websites including The Guardian, New Statesman and The Debrief. Girl On The Net’s writing is witty, vulgar, honest and everything we need to see more of in the modern-day media.

BEAUTY EDITOR Megan Fife @meganfife ART DIRECTOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER Ganesh Rao @graosrnews PUBLISHER Bloom Publishing @bloompubltd EVENT & PROMOTIONS COORDINATOR Mandy Seymour

Abby Sterry who wrote “Understanding Depression: My Story” is a 20-yearold online activist from Hereford. She has suffered with depression for almost 10 years and actively seeks to lose the stigma around mental health. Her dream job would be to be a paramedic and she has a ginger cat called Oki who has a white moustache!




Bloom Magazine


DISCLAIMER: This magazine was produced for educational purposes and is NOT for commercial use.

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Hanna Shepherdson who illustrated our first ever issue of Bloom’s front cover is a 21-year-old Illustration and Design student from Gateshead, studying at the University of Sunderland. We think Hanna perfectly encompasses Bloom in her illustration of a 20-something woman fighting for gender equality among all the other shit that comes with being a millennial female.

Welcome to the debut issue of Bloom - the uncensored voice of women today. Here at Bloom, we’re dedicated to providing an honest, witty and very real monthly magazine, that’s jam-packed with content. The magazine will deliver all the usual installments of fashion, travel and culture, with a much-needed injection of hard-hitting news from around the world, as well as features on feminism, mental health, body image and an unhealthy amount of sex. I’m Shannon, the editor of Bloom and I’m an intersectional feminist. There it is again, the F word. Feminist. It’s been in the press a lot this year and not always for the right reasons. A bit like Marmite, some people love feminism, others hate it. Others simply don’t understand its cause. To clarify, feminists aren’t man-haters or bra-burners (have you seen how much a bra costs nowadays?!) Feminists are simply human beings that want gender equality and to have our voices heard. An intersectional feminist is someone that not only wants gender equality, but also equality for all oppressed groups, including people of a different race, culture, sexuality, size, age or religion. Of course, like all groups, there are some radicals within feminism but NEWSFLASH: some feminists wear bras, some shave, some follow fashion and some feminists are fucking incredible. In fact, feminists ARE fucking incredible because they’re taking a stand and fighting for what’s right - women’s rights. I hope you enjoy our first ever issue of Bloom. Be sure to let me know what you think by tweeting me or emailing me through the details below. Have a great week!






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In every issue, we aim to provide you ladies with a little bit Bloom’s fab guest writer Girl On The Net hosts a planning of female empowerment for your day ahead. Enjoy! meeting on rebranding feminism. Do you agree with her?



Ever pretended you had an endless sum of money and

We interview the real Rae Earl behind the book and

made a wishlist of things you want but can’t justify

television show My Mad Fat Diary. We discuss mental

delving into the overdraft for? Check out ours on page 11.

health in young people and lots more!




We collated the past six months of female-friendly news and put it all together for you too! Aren’t we lovely?!



This is the serious shit. We take a look at how women worldwide are living in places where abortion is illegal or they are at risk of being forced to marry young.

MEET THE FOUNDER OF FEMSPLAIN: AMBER GORDON We chat to Amber Gordon about Femsplain, Lena Dunham and getting hacked on International Women’s Day.

36 IN CONVERSATION WITH ALEXANDRA TWETEN OF BYE FELIPE Bloom had a chat with Alexandra Tweten about her Instagram account which focuses on shaming males that turn hostile towards women after being rejected online.

PAGES 40 - 46



Bloom editor Shannon Hodge discusses her experience with being called fat on the street and how she dealt with it.



We interviewed plus-size burlesque dancer Lillian Bustle and spoke to her about body positivity and her TEDx talk.

PAGES 48 - 55

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Own a hamsa hand necklace? Wore a bindi without being

Bloom editor Shannon Hodge admits her undying love for

religious? Check out this article on how what we wear

the Big Apple in this opinion piece (read: love letter to NY)

affects other cultures.





Bloom gives you the low-down on the best things to do in

We interview 20-year-old playwright Franki about why

New York, whether that be to get a dollar pizza slice or go

she’s been described as “the voice of a generation.”

up to the top of the Rockefeller Center!





People anonymously told Bloom their cringiest sex stories

We made sure we had our ears open at this year’s NYFW

in one sentence! (The page number was completely

to bring you the best of gossip from the streets of NYC!

accidental, we promise!)





We ventured out into the sub-zero temperatures to snap

Bloom’s guest writer Girl On The Net discusses the whole

some of the most stylish peeps on the streets.

shame surrounding girls taking naked pictures and how she deals with it.

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A positive post on this year’s Sport England campaign and how its affected our editor and many more women!



We shot this amazing Katy Perry-esque fruity shoot with up and coming model from Austria, Vivien Rose.


“Survivors have the right to tell their stories, to take back control after the ultimate loss of control. You can help by never defining a survivor by what has been taken from her.


You can help by saying ‘I believe you.’” “Think of them. Heads up, eyes on the target. Running. Full speed. Gravity be damned. Towards that thick layer of glass that is the ceiling. Running, full speed and crashing. Crashing into it and falling back. Woman after woman. Each one running and each one crashing. How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared?” SHONDA RHIMES

LENA DUNHAM (pictured left)

“There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time, we will do it by ourselves.” MALALA YOUSAFZAI

“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story I will.” AMY SCHUMER

“I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is: ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalised person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?”



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Each month we put together a wish list of all the things we would buy if we had a much healthier bank account and didn’t have to worry about breaking into the dreaded overdraft! Just look at those shoes... *drool* 011

IN THE NEWS THE HALF-YEAR ROUND-UP #EACHBODYSREADY A huge online debate sparked in April after Protein World billboards were put up displaying a ridiculously toned woman next to the words “Are you beach body ready?” The online backlash ensued with people posting the hashtag #EachBodysReady alongside pictures of their own bikini-clad bodies. Although we felt sorry for the model, we had little to no sympathy for the person behind the Protein World Twitter account after he abused basically anyone who wasn’t a gym rat or didn’t feed his ego in the way he would have liked. Fortunately after a few days of online protesting and people writing on the tube station billboards they were all taken down. Online activists 1 - Protein wankers 0


Thousands of Grazia readers campaigned and David Cameron actually listened (or more so bowed to pressure from both his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and from Labour’s Gloria de Piero) and put into action to introduce mandatory pay audits, under which big companies that employ more than 250 people will have to publish details of their male and female staff’s pay. The law will arm women with the information (and evidence) they need to bash on the doors of their bosses and challenge unfair pay. This will make one huge crack in the glass ceiling and take us one step further to gender equality in both the workplace and everyday life. Hoorah!


On International Women’s Day (March 8), Emma Watson and Facebook teamed up to do a live Q&A about the #HeForShe campaign she fronts as part of her UN Women Goodwill Ambassador role. Watson bravely spoke up about how some random internet dickheads tried to silence her by threatening to release her nudes in retaliation to Watson’s first #HeForShe speech back in September 2014. Needless to say, the nudes didn’t exist and Watson said in the Q&A how some people were “shocked and unaware that gender equality is still an issue.” As well as lots of kick-ass female empowerment, the speech also sheds a lot of light on Watson’s own journey to seeking gender equality and how her brothers are even bigger feminists than her – winner! 012 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

BRUCE COMES OUT AS TRANS The former Olympian athlete told Diane Sawyer in a special interview on April 24 – watched by 17 million people in the US alone: “For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman.” The father of six Jenner’s and the man who raised the Kardashian Klan for over 20 years admitted to starting female hormones back in the 90s but decided to stop due to the fear of disobeying his faith (Christianity), but also the fear of what his kids may have thought. Now 65, Bruce says he is finally ready to live his life as “her” after feeling trapped in his own body for so many decades. We wish you all the luck in the world Bruce and we can’t wait to see you rocking the shit out of your new look! We wonder if the new name will begin with a K?!

SANDI TOKSVIG LAUNCHES WOMEN’S EQUALITY PARTY Comedian and presenter of The News Quiz, Sandi Toksvig left Radio 4 in May to launch new political party, “The Women’s Equality Party.” Toksvig describes the new party as “a fantastic group of women – and indeed men – who have decided that enough is enough and we need to make some changes.” And even though it’s early doors, we’re already eagerly anticipating what the Women’s Equality Party will bring to the table and how they aim to achieve equality in Britain. We’ll definitely be looking out for them at the 2020 election and with a name like that, they’ve already got our vote!


More women were voted into parliament at this year’s general election than ever before. Of course, it’s not split right down the middle but we’re getting there ladies! Around 190 women were elected as MPs this time around, a significant rise on the 148 out of 650 who were elected in 2010. One of the biggest stories of this year’s elections however was the success of 20-year-old Law student Mhairi Black, who beat former government minister Douglas Alexander and became the youngest MP in the Commons since 1667. The Scottish National Party also did a great job with female figures, with over a third of their MPs being made up of women. Left: Mhairi Black, 20, Scottish National Party MP



Bloom looks at what’s happening with women worldwide. Warning: A lot of this content is shocking and it’s disgusting to think that things like this are still happening in 2015. It is so important for us to discuss these subjects so that more can be done to help these women, and stop this happening. Be the voice of the unheard by speaking out today, whether that be online or in the streets. You can also speak to fellow activists on our Twitter hashtag #BloomArmy


China’s one-child policy which was introduced back in 1978 has led to a huge amount of suffering for women, who have been forced to have abortions over the years. Chinese data shows that 13 million abortions are performed each year, which means a disgusting statistic of 35,000 a day. Also, due to a history of son preference, infanticide and abandoning of female babies is so common that China now has a severely unbalanced gender ratio. The female suicide rate in China is also three times the amount of men, unlike most other countries where male rates are higher.


Female Genital Mutilation is still a huge issue in many parts of the world. The act is mostly carried out on young girls some time between infancy and age 15 and more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated. The causes of female genital mutilation include a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities. However, this does not mask the fact that FGM is a major breach of a female’s basic human rights and has no health benefits whatsoever.

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Abortion is still illegal in the Republic Of Ireland unless the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life. Despite huge controversy around it, the law still states that no woman will be granted an abortion under the reasons of rape, incest or foetal anomalies. Counselling services and advice on where to travel overseas for a safe abortion can be organised but these meetings must be face-to-face and often are reported as a meeting that misinforms and intimidates women to prevent them from having the abortion.


There is still a huge issue with young Asian women being forced into marriages they do not want. Child marriage is a tragic reality faced by 15 million girls around the globe every year, however the major statistics come from both Pakistan and India. Early and forced marriage is a violation of human rights that destroys girls’ childhoods and women’s lives, so why is it still happening today? Young girls in the UK are affected by it too despite there being laws against it here. There have been endless articles over the past few years in which young girls have been abused by the husbands or families they have been forced into, cases where young girls have committed suicide and even cases of “honour-killings”, where a girls own parents will kill her for dishonouring the family name. Another struggle in Asian countries in particular is the injustices that young girls face whilst seeking an education. In 2012, a 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban in an attempt to take her life. She was targeted by the Taliban because she blogged about these injustices, because she had a voice. The fact that Ms. Yousafzai’s voice could be deemed a threat to the Taliban — that they could see a schoolgirl’s death as desirable and justifiable — was seen as evidence of both the militants’ brutality and her courage. Malala is now living in Britain with her family and continues to fight for education in Pakistan today. 015

REBRANDING By Girl on the Net An anonymous feminist sex blogger at sets out her manifesto on rebranding feminism. Hi, everyone. Welcome to this, the meeting in which we aim to rebrand feminism, an exercise that countless people have insisted is vital. As a feminist, I’m often told that the word needs to be changed, or that feminism’s image must be improved, and because I heard the phrase ‘rebranding feminism’ at least seven hundred times over the course of 2014, I thought 2015 should be the year we roll up our sleeves and get on with it. Please take a seat, help yourself to coffee, and try not to fight over the chocolate biscuits. Point 1 on the agenda: does feminism need a name change? Lots of people have brought this one up, because ultimately “feminism” does sound a bit woman-y, doesn’t it? Although – wait a minute! Maybe the word is doing exactly what it’s designed to – highlight issues which disproportionately affect women. I suspect that’s the case. While the structures in which we live harm everyone by putting them in a set “place” based on whether they’re perceived to be pink or blue, they do disproportionately harm women. 016 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

The word is actually pretty damn useful because it highlights the fact that, well, feminism is going to struggle harder for women’s rights than men’s rights in most cases. Not because men don’t deserve the same rights over e.g. their own bodies, their right to education, to political representation etc, but because in many instances they already have them. So… name change is a tricky one, but let’s take some suggestions from the floor. Any ideas as to what we should call it?

Point 2: should feminism really be called “equalism?” No. Motion denied by the senior committee of… well… me. Apart from being an extraordinarily ugly word, we have a word for “equalism” already – it’s “equality”. And we actually use that word a hell of a lot – not just when we’re fighting for women’s rights but also when we’re fighting for equality regardless of race, sexual

orientation, etc. If you’re repulsed by the word “feminism” then please feel free to use the word “equality” if you like. I’m not going to stop you.

“Not because men don’t deserve the same rights as women, but because in many instances, they already have them” However, I’d question why you feel that it’s so gosh-darn-it vital that you insist I never use it. We have specific words and phrases to describe other areas of political struggle, because it’s important to recognise when we’re fighting for rights that have traditionally been denied to certain people, or when we’re campaigning against something that disproportionately affects a particular group. If you’re insisting not just on calling it “equalism,” but eradicating any word that hints at the specific struggle for the rights of women, I’d question what your motivations are for doing that: are you insisting on equalism because you believe – against all available evidence – that the patriarchy harms men to exactly the same degree?


Patriarchy does harm men – I’ve done this one before. But we generally measure “success” and “harm” by who has power and wealth and freedom and rights, and in most countries in the world, men have the lion’s share of those things. They are harmed by the patriarchy, but not in the same ways, or to the same degree.

Feminists aren’t perfect. In fact, some of them are arseholes (myself included). Like all dominant groups, groups of feminists with the loudest voices often have a tendency to drown out the voices of others, and the way our society is structured means some tend to be amplified more than others.

There are some who think we should throw out all structures and start again. I’m not one of these people, and I suspect if you’re advocating a mealymouthed “equalism” then you probably aren’t either. So if you want to keep our current political structures, yet fight for “equalism”, you have to recognise that these structures have, historically, harmed women more than men. Having a word that highlights this point doesn’t feel like a ludicrously ambitious request to make, to be honest. Point 3: if not equalism, then what? My actual answer, if offered the task of renaming feminism, wouldn’t be to change the word to focus on including the dominant group, but changing it to be more inclusive of groups which have traditionally been marginalised even within feminism.

platform on which to bang on about their tedious opinions…

“Feminists aren’t perfect. In fact, some of them are arseholes (myself included)” Answers on a postcard to this one, but I think it’s a much stronger suggestion than that proposed by “equalists.” Question from the floor: how about we start “meninism” as well? Thanks, Mike from accounts. Great question. The answer is: because that’s bollocks.

So rather than renaming feminism to something that will please members of a more dominant group, why not rename it to something that is more inclusive of the groups whose problems feminism has traditionally marginalised? Women of colour, trans women, disabled women, women who live in countries which don’t allow them access to education or healthcare, women who don’t happen to have a giant blogging

Name me a specific, proven issue that disproportionately affects dudes, and I’ll show you how and why feminists care about it. Saying “we need meninism” is a bit like trying to ringfence a portion of the meeting biscuits onto your own special plate. I bought the biscuits for everyone, Mike, and you’ve already had three. You’ll still get biscuits in future meetings, it’s just that they won’t specifically be called “Mike’s biscuits.” Another question from the floor. Aren’t you worried about turning people off being feminists? Maybe. Maybe I’m turning off 017

“Feminism is not a massive club where we all sit round having these actual meetings. We don’t gather together in a town hall, let Caitlin Moran make a short speech about the agenda, vote to ban page three and internet porn, then pop home before the patriarchy notices we don’t have its dinner on the table” some people who already hate the word feminism. But to be honest, if you hate the word “feminism” because it puts too strong an emphasis on the rights that women have traditionally been denied, you probably aren’t going to be excited about fighting for those rights. If you have genuine concerns about what feminism is, or does, I’d much rather spend time tackling those actual problems than coming up with a word that will obscure them. Point 4: what does feminism stand for? What do feminists want? We’re obviously struggling to come up with a new name for feminism here, and I’m not sure we’re even clear on whether it needs one. Let’s put that to one side for now and focus on the rebrand itself. Can we at least agree on a list of things that feminists want? Hmm. Feminism is not a massive club where we all sit round having these actual meetings. We don’t gather together in a town hall, let Caitlin Moran make a short speech about the agenda, vote to ban page three and internet porn, then pop home before the patriarchy notices we don’t have its dinner on the table. 018 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

Feminism is not a group of people studiously beavering away to tick off a set of universally agreed goals. Feminists are united by an idea: the notion that everyone is equal regardless of gender and that on this basis, equal rights are worth fighting for.

And, come to think of it, isn’t agreeing on a new “brand” for feminism just a more “marketable” way of doing exactly that?

Within that common idea there are myriad different goals, from getting Jane Austen on a tenner to achieving educational equality. Some of these goals are amazing, and the kind of things I am 100% behind. Others are, I think, misguided and/or badly done and/or entirely missing the point of what I think feminism should be about.

Point 5: why feminism and nothing else?

But that’s cool, because – as mentioned above – this is not actually a unified movement: there are no meetings, and I’m certainly not the goddamn leader.

“Feminists are united by an idea: the notion that everyone is equal regardless of gender” Going back to the point above – if you think feminists should stop whining and all agree on a common cause, you’ll end up with a “common cause” which writes off a whole bunch of people whose voices have traditionally been ignored.

It’s starting to look like we shouldn’t rebrand at all, to be honest.

Maybe feminism’s just too hard to rebrand. I mean if these pesky feminists can’t even agree on what their next campaign is, how the hell are we going to get them to vote on a logo? My fifth and (I promise) final point addresses the thing that pisses me off most: the notion that not only should all feminists agree on whatever our “goal” or “brand” is, but that we should settle upon something which is not distasteful to those in power. “Oh the problem with feminism is that it conjures images of angry femi-Nazis,” warbles the ex-editor of Loaded magazine, trotting out the tired “all men are rapists” quote without a trace of irony. “I know feminism isn’t about misandry, but so many people think of it that way,” garble the people who are predominantly responsible for making others think that way. Look: just because you have

misconceptions about something, that does not mean that everyone engaged in that thing needs to leap through new communication hoops to prevent you from having a cry about it. We can try, of course, and engaging new people is important, but don’t tell feminists to rebrand in the same breath as you explain why feminism isn’t *really* about man-hating. If you know it isn’t (and of course it isn’t) then give other people the credit to recognise that too.

“Do we insist that capitalism be renamed to “not-as-bad-asyou-think-ism” because its image has become a bit negative?” More pressingly, why on earth is this kind of criticism only ever levelled at feminism? Are we going to rebrand Utilitarianism because a bunch of people don’t know what it means? Do we insist that capitalism be renamed to “not-as-bad-as you-think-ism” because its image has become a bit negative after the financial collapse? Is there any large political or ideological movement in which everyone agrees?

Perhaps more pertinently, is anyone waving their flag, demanding these other movements rebrand themselves because they don’t reflect differences of opinion or have names which actively seek to challenge misconceptions? No. Over to you: rebranding feminism If you want to identify as a feminist: great. If you don’t: don’t. The only time I’ll realistically care is if you say you’re a feminist while actively fighting for something that holds back gender equality. My problem isn’t with how anyone else identifies, but how people dictate what I call myself. Within the broad scope of Any Issue That Touches On Gender Equality, I’m well up for a debate. Let’s talk about the problems different people face, and how best to solve them. Let’s work out what we want to do next to highlight a particular issue, or campaign for a fairer law.

our own arses in an attempt to placate those who’d never have joined in anyway. So, my conclusion from this Meeting On Rebranding Feminism is that I refuse to slap a new name badge on something I’ve called myself for years, or insist that we all agree on the Feminist Agenda for 2015. If you disagree then the floor is yours. I’ll be here in the corner, scowling at the word ‘equalism’ and eating the last of the biscuits.

Let us know what your manifesto would be if you were to rebrand the word feminism by tweeting us at @bloommag or emailing your manifesto to

Let’s try and reflect on what’s good about feminism and what’s bad, and not disappear head-first up 019


Instagram might be overrun with pouting celebrities and cats who have more followers than you, but there are still plenty of feminist Instagram accounts that prefer gender politics over a well-angled arse selfie. So, if your Instagram is full of sunsets, fitness accounts and the Kardashians and you want to follow people more intellectually inspiring, the accounts below have got your back, girl.

This is a killer Insta feed which focuses on problems women face on a day-to-day basis, including body-shaming and sexism, with a teaspoon of satire for good measure.



y’re not feminist zine. When the Sandy is an LA-based and featuring en wom g erin pow em sharing stories of of their print y’re posting snippets girl-power memes, the publication.

We love to blow our own trumpet so head over to @bloomstagram and follow us too!

@feministcorna Feminist Corna is your go-to place for thoughtful posts on body positivity, women of the world, calling out sexism and racism as well as their biting satirical humour.

@theriotgrrrlproject An Instagram where former and current Riotgrrrls document their memories and experiences with the movement. Expect hilarious memes, copious amounts of kick-ass riotgrrrls smashing the patriarchy and plenty of empowerment along the way.

@feministprobs The bio reads: “Just another feminist dealing with the everyday stupidity of society and trying to change the world one photo at a time.” Posts mainly include quotes tackling subjects such as slut-shaming, beauty standards and LGBTQ issues, as well as many many more #worththefollow! 021

Source: Olivia Martin-McGuire

THE REAL RAE EARL Bloom meets Rae Earl, 43, the author of My Mad Fat Diary. Rae’s diaries led to an E4 TV series of her teenage years. The third and final series will air this summer.

“To be able to turn around and say “look, this happened in my adolescence but here I am in my 40s and I’ve done all this” is an important message because it says things can be okay. They can be dreadful now, you can feel like your world is ending, you can feel desperate. I know I felt desperate. And I know that person (referring to herself) felt unbearably awful but it’s important that people see that nobody’s life is perfect. I’ve certainly made mistakes and I suspect I’ll carry on making mistakes - but I’ve managed to lead that “normal” life that I didn’t think I could lead” Back in 1989, 17-year-old Rae Earl started writing a diary while living with her mother and her mum’s Moroccan boyfriend in Stamford, Lincolnshire: “I was overweight and I’d just come out of a psychiatric ward and was having difficulties with various mental illnesses – I’d had a complete nervous breakdown basically.” Earl’s diary entries were later published as books My Mad Fat Diary and sequel My Madder Fatter Diary. In 2013, the books were made into a show for E4 and its hard-hitting yet relatable storyline has been a huge success. This summer will see the third and final series of My Mad Fat Diary air on E4. The E4 take on Earl’s books relocates the setting to the mid-1990s, making Earl a little younger (16) and changing some of the characters. And Earl is 022 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

thrilled with the result: “Darling, I’m not just saying this, if you write a book you’re very precious about it and if it’s about yourself, you’re VERY precious about it but I am bloody thrilled. The writers Tom Bidwell (series one and two) and George Kay (series three) are amazing. The cast are lovely. It’s just the dream. I’m so thrilled with the end product. I’m a fan of it. A fan of myself” she jokes. Both the book and the TV series inspired people of all ages from around the world to speak up about their own experiences. Despite living in Hobart, Tasmania, Earl said she receives at least one message a day thanking her on social media. “I’m not ashamed in telling you that I do screenshot some of the tweets and keep them. I’m very aware and people have been sweet enough to tell me that it has helped them and god that’s a lovely thing. That makes me proud.”

“I always say to them, ‘actually I haven’t done anything, it’s you.’ And I’m not being overtly humble here. They are the ones that have turned their lives around and they’re the ones that have opted to take a positive message from the series.” Earl’s black humour and down-to-earth accounts of everyday teenage woes also resonated with a lot of people. “I still wanted and did the same things as all teenagers. The character of Rae is much more than a teen with mental health problems, she’s rounded, she wants love, she wants sex, she wants all those things” as Earl openly expresses “I do love her.” (YAY FOR SELFLOVING.) “Though what resonated with me the most was Kester’s line: “people can either accept you for who you or they can fuck off.” Even as adults, we still need to be reminded of that sometimes. When a book is turned in to a television series or film, the main fears for both fans and authors is that the TV character won’t represent the book’s character. However, this wasn’t a problem for Rae Earl and her on-screen self, Sharon Rooney. The pair didn’t speak until after the first series as Rae wanted Sharon to find her own interpretation of


teenage Rae, without influence from adult Rae. “I love Sharon. She has brought that character to life with such tenderness and realness. It’s weird, to most people she is Rae and I’m not” Earl laughs. “She’s genuinely one of the most exciting actresses of our generation. It sounds like a huge hyperbole but her quality of work is phenomenal. She can do anything and Rae is just one string to her bow.”

Both the book and the show encompasses a lot of important themes including mental health, body image, self-harm, bullying and a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship. When asked what she thought was the most important theme she covered, Rae said “The message that people with mental health issues are still human beings that want the same things and aren’t just denoted and labelled by a mental health condition is singularly the most important thing. But the body image thing is right up there isn’t it? They’re both really important.”

“People can either accept you for who you are, or they can fuck off” - Kester Rae Earl’s raw accounts in her books were projected into the TV show, enabling them to address a wide range of issues including the lesser known condition, Intrusive Thought OCD, which Rae describes as “having horrible thoughts, thinking you’re a terrible person for thinking them and having to go and do a ritual to make up for it” admitting that OCD will always be a part of her life. “I think if you’ve had a breakdown at any time in your life, you are naturally very mindful. It’s like having a broken arm, if you’ve broke your arm, you’re not going to start javelin throwing with it. It’s the same thing with a head. If it’s been broken, you just have to watch it a bit. And I certainly do. I’m aware of my limits and I’m not afraid to say if I need to go and speak to somebody.” Having been put into a mental health ward with adults at the age of 16, Rae is very passionate about improving the treatment for young people suffering. Talking about her experience and views, she said: “It was fucking awful and it’s something I feel very strongly about now. I can’t say it still happens but I know the provision for young people is horrific. It’s not good enough. It’s an absolute national shame. “Last year a police man tweeted that they had a youth in their cells with mental health issues because there wasn’t anywhere else for them to go – that’s a national disgrace and it makes me furious that they’re still refusing to acknowledge that young people have mental health issues. It’s a tragedy. Lives are being lost, because they will take the route out of suicide because they can’t cope with their head. And I would put my foot up the 023

“I would put my foot up the arse of any government minister that thought it was appropriate to cut anything from child and adolescent mental health” arse of any government minister that thought it was appropriate to cut anything from child and adolescent mental health. And I give full respect to everybody on the ground that’s working in that field. It’s not the people on the ground, it’s the policy makers. And they need to fucking sort it out.” Raising awareness of mental health in young people is imperative in losing the stigma around it. Earl thinks we can work on losing the stigma by “having more portrayals of mental health on TV where it’s just part of the deal and not the denoting factor. For example, somebody with arthritis isn’t known as “the terrible person with arthritis”, they will have other characters and qualities about them, so why can’t we?” “Somebody for me who’s done a lot is Ruby Wax. She was a funny lady, she was ballsy, she was eccentric and when she turned round and said she’d had struggles, I thought ‘well, there’s one of my heroines admitting it’ and with that comes that cultural acceptance that problems of the mind are very common and they can be helped and you can still lead a good life.”

“Somebody with arthritis isn’t known as ‘the terrible person with arthritis,’ they have other qualities about them, so why can’t we?” Rae is quick to note that despite some people openly speaking about mental health, a lot of conditions are still kept in the bedroom or online. Her advice to young people suffering is “talk to somebody. You have to find somebody you trust, you can’t handle it on your own. I couldn’t handle

it on my own. And there’s still times I have bad anxiety and OCD, I’ll go and talk to somebody – no problem! You need an advocate, talk to your mum, dad, teacher, GP. Let them bash the doors down for you.” Discussing the things that personally helped her own recovery, Rae said: “Good old cognitive therapy and hypnotherapy really helped me, though I must stress that what worked for me may not work for others. “Beyond that, I find ways to manage my head all the time. I’m a great believer in just putting on the iPod and walking for miles. And that to me is better than anything going and always will be - but of course, some people with mental health issues can’t even leave the house, so I’m not painting a black and white picture - this is just what has worked for me over the years.” After an intimate, honest and raw view into Rae’s life on our television screens, in the books and in this interview, we asked Rae how she felt about the next series of My Mad Fat Diary being the third and final series. Her reply: “It hasn’t really hit me yet. I hope the series is passed down like some kind of crazy antique. A lovely thing is that lots of mums have watched it with their daughters and I hope it becomes the sort of thing that people can enjoy but can also say that people go through this stuff and it’s not so unusual.” And finally, what can we expect from the final series Rae?! We’re dying to know! “I am not going to reveal a thing!” she laughs. “But I will say this… I LOVE IT.”

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Understanding Depression: My Story By Abby Sterry Abby Sterry, 20 is an online activist from Hereford and she is extremely passionate about losing the stigma around mental health.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year, so it’s likely you’ve already met someone suffering from depression, whether they have been diagnosed or not. From the age of around 12, I have suffered with depression. Though I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 14 years old. It started when my grandfather became ill. I was suffering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa at the time and I had also been using self-harm as a coping mechanism. You may think it’s quite a young age to be affected by depression and eating disorders, and I agree, it is. It’s hard for young children and teenagers suffering from these illnesses because many people assume it’s just a phase or “teenage angst.” It’s possible a small fraction of people are exaggerating, but it still shouldn’t be ignored. The longer mental illnesses like depression go on, the worse they become, and the harder they are to treat. I went through various types of counselling and therapy, and like many others it just didn’t work for me. I felt I was wasting their time, and I found it hard to be honest with them. Since getting diagnosed, I have tried several anti-depressants. My doctor was a great help, but I went through several doctors before finding him. It’s the same with counsellors and therapists; if you don’t feel comfortable or happy with them, change! Not all of them will be suited to you and they are there to help you. My worst experience with depression was

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attempting to commit suicide three times throughout 2008, the last attempt landing me in hospital. Many people cannot understand why people try to commit suicide, so I will try to put into words how I felt at the time: When I was in that place, it was horrible. It’s one of the most frightening places to be. My mind and thoughts became blank. I wasn’t there, I couldn’t feel or think, I was a walking shell and I didn’t want to be here. It hurt to be alive. Every day was painful, and all my mind was telling me is that there is only one way out: “you can end this now, no more pain for you or the people around you.” On my last attempt, I was in the same hospital as my grandad who was seriously unwell at the time but he never knew I was there. When I got out of hospital and my grandad passed away, I realised how life was truly precious. I realised that nothing was permanent, life was never going to be always amazing or always horrible, and it’s all about how you deal with it. But this realisation doesn’t come so easily to everyone. Let’s imagine there is a long path that everyone around you is walking on. When you start dealing with depression, you find yourself down a small hole. It may take some time to get back up to the top, but you’re able to get there with support and the correct treatment for you. However when you aren’t able to get back up onto the path, you slowly fall deeper into this hole and the deeper you find yourself the harder it is to climb out of the hole. It becomes increasingly more difficult to reach out and get people’s attention to help you.

But no matter how far you fall into the pit of depression, there is always a way out. It may take time, and trying different medications and therapies to find the right one for you. Having supportive and positive people around you is one of the key points to recovering from depression. Being in the UK, we are lucky enough to have the charity Samaritans who are available 24/7 on the phone, email, SMS, and in local branches. To find out more go to

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FOR FEMINISM Intelligent, driven and all kinds of lovely - Amber Gordon is the fresh new face of feminism. Bloom’s editor-in-chief Shannon Hodge joins her for a chat about founding Femsplain, trolls and getting internet-loving from Lena Dunham


“I just wanted to build a community of people who can support each other whilst feeling comfortable and safe expressing themselves” - Amber Gordon, 25 For over 50 years, women of the world have grown with the feminist movement. However, only in the past few years has it really come to the forefront in both the media and on the internet, since its 70s hey-day. Here at Bloom, we love discovering empowering women around the world – really, it makes us all happy and fuzzy inside. So imagine our delight when we got the opportunity to interview the founder of - a shared experience publisher - 25-yearold Amber Gordon. “Femsplain is a community of people who’ve come together on the internet to change the way women are discussed through discussion. We call 030 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

ourselves a shared experience publisher and we only share stories that are very personal to our contributors that hopefully our readers can identify with or support” says Amber. The site launched on October 27, 2014 - the same day that Taylor Swift launched her 1989 album: “not intentional, we just wore the same dress to the party I guess” Amber laughs. Since the launch, Femsplain has received a whole lot of internet lovin’ from the likes of Lena Dunham and Tyler Oakley. In February 2015, Femsplain launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to fund the website, the contributors and future Femsplain community events. The Kickstarter

campaign surpassed its target of $25,000 and raised a whopping $30,608. So who is the founder of such a fabulous website for anyone who identifies as female? Well, Amber Gordon is a 25 year old creative strategist living in New York City. Originally living between both Connecticut and Wisconsin, Amber decided to move to the Big Apple almost three years ago, a place she has “always dreamed of living.” With her previous employer being Tumblr, it’s fair to say that Amber was doing pretty well for herself beforehand, however she explained “since I was a kid, I had always wanted to build something of my own,” describing Femsplain as her

baby. And although she is not currently earning a salary from it, it is clear how passionate she is about the site, saying “I’ll do whatever I have to do to support it and make it a success.”

all types of content including videos, art, illustrations, music and of course, writing. However, when pitching to Femsplain, contributors must bear in mind the website’s theme each month.

WTF did the idea come from?! Initially, the idea for the website had been titled Sad Drunk Girls – a title Amber and her friends aptly gave to posts they wrote to each other in group texts when they were, you guessed it, sad and drunk. This initial concept then formed the idea for Femsplain, as the girls decided they should “build a platform for other people to do this, to feel safe, to meet people and help themselves feel that they’re not alone whatever they’re going through.”

For example, one month the theme was Fear, Amber explains: “we ask people to submit content keeping that broad theme in mind. It doesn’t directly need to be about fear itself but more about a particular time you’ve felt fear or how that theme applies to your life.”

“Femsplain is my baby and I’ll do whatever I have to do to support it and make it a success” Once they had a platform they needed a name, when one day Amber’s guy friend said to her: “Why don’t you just Femsplain a name to me Amber?” and that was that. Speaking about Femsplain, Amber said “Our mission is to change the way women are discussed through discussion, so we’re trying to change the name Femsplain too. It’s not really a positive word, it’s the opposite of Mansplain which is negative, so we’re reshaping the conversation on women as well as reshaping Femsplain. Plus it’s super catchy and easy to remember!”

Giving an example of a piece written for Femsplain’s fear theme, Amber said: “A young 15 year old girl from the United Kingdom wrote about how she’s learning about what feminism is in school right now, including empowerment and equality. She believes in feminism but she’s afraid about what happens when she leaves school: will she be able to take her knowledge into the work force? Will she have to suppress it because if she wants a promotion, will that be annoying to her boss? She’s afraid. And that’s the kind of raw, awesome stuff we post!” “Our content is meant to be very relatable and just because female-identified women are the primary voices, men can totally join in the discussion and the

“Intersectional Feminism is what we’ve built Femsplain on.” Intersectionality is the belief that oppressions are interlinked and cannot be solved alone. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.

articles are definitely relatable to anyone.” However, Amber does note that Femsplain avoids publishing anything that attacks a certain thing or person without real knowledge or backing. Fortunately they have only had one slip since starting the website, on a piece written about modern romance novel names. Speaking on the honest mistake, Amber said: “It’s a learning curve for us. One thing that we didn’t think was offensive happened to be offensive to a whole group of people. We apologised and have learned from it.” Despite making one mistake, Femsplain has continued to grow as an online forum. Its raw, gritty and honest content makes for great reading. Its communityfeel is like no other website. Yes, there’s similar content on sites such as Hello Giggles,

It’s all about the content... Although the website mainly receives articles from its contributors, Femsplain accepts 031

Jezebel, The Toast and Thought Catalog – but nothing as real. Amber explained: “I pull my inspiration from a lot of different things including The Hairpin and Rookie magazine but the main reason we created the site was because we thought there was a lack.” “I think what sets us apart, number one – all of our content is contributed so our voice is diverse and unique. We’re highlighting personal experiences. We’re providing a platform to anyone who’s female-identified, not just women but transfems too. It’s for everyone. We want to support all women.” And clearly all of the readers want to return the favour by supporting Femsplain, with 780 people backing their Kickstarter campaign. The aim of the campaign was to earn enough money to pay the people contributing to the website. In a world where people are working at magazines and websites for years for free, we asked Amber just why she felt it was so important to pay her workers and her reply was: 032 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

“Right now we’re paying our future contributors who give us content every single month $100 per piece - above the industry standard. Most places don’t pay at all and that’s so offensive to the people building their site and their voice for them. It’s not much but it’s a thank you and recognition to say: “your work means something.”

“Femsplain is for everyone. We want to support ALL women” “Quality content deserves compensation and no-one else is doing it so I need to set some sort of standard. A lot of people ask the same question like “you’re paying your writers? That’s SO different” and it’s shocking to me that that’s the norm.” “We’re hiring an intern, we’re paying our intern. I don’t get a salary but we’re paying her and paying for her travel too. It’s important if you want to have a good morale overall. When people talk about Femsplain, I want them to be like “yeah, that’s

the site that pays their contributors and this is all the other great stuff they’re doing.” LENA DUNHAM TWEETS As well as having a successful army of backers on their Kickstarter campaign and an ever-growing audience, Femsplain also has the backing of one of our favourite ladies on the planet, LENA FUCKING DUNHAM! On 18 November, 2014 Lena Dunham tweeted: “I love Femsplain cc: @ missambear” (tagging Amber Gordon in the tweet too!!) Naturally, the site was inundated with traffic and was brought down for seven hours. Reliving the moment, Amber excitably explained: “OH MY GOD. When that happened I was still working at Tumblr. I was having a bad day and my Tweetdeck just started going crazy. At first I thought it was a parody account but clicked on it and saw the little blue tick and stood up from my desk and was like “OH MY FUCKING GOD, LENA DUNHAM JUST TWEETED AT ME” and then everyone in the office just started clapping for me.”

Founder of Femsplain, Amber Gordon (left) with Founding Senior Editor, Gabriela Barkho.

Credit: Jack Smth IV


“It was like the best day of my life. And then she crashed the site.”

“OH MY FUCKING GOD, LENA DUNHAM TWEETED ME!” Hacked on International Women’s Day However, every cloud has a silver lining as a sysadmin from the Isle of Man offered to help Amber get the site up and running again. The same sysadmin got the site back up after hackers brought it down on one of its most important days for content since its launch - International Women’s Day. When speaking to Amber, she explained that hacking attempts were made regularly since the site launched, however had never been to the scale of this. “We had just posted an article about Hilary Clinton running the campaign ‘Not There Yet’ about how we’ve come far to equality but we’re not quite there and it’s so funny that the day we’re supposed to celebrate women, we were being silenced.” The organised attack happened at 12:00pm on March 8. “It was really upsetting and unfortunate but a lot of good came from it too. We got a lot of press coverage and people were sending us words of encouragement. We received $2000 in donations and were able to use that to buy software that prevents DDoS attacks and were also able to compensate our sysadmin.” “Once we got it back up, everyone was so happy - it was like a celebration. Yes, it was unfortunate but it shows how 034 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

many people care and support us and that good does triumph evil. Plus, we got more traffic in those 2 days than we got in a month!”

“The day that was meant to celebrate women, we were being silenced” - Amber speaking on Femsplain being hacked on International Women’s Day

Female role models We were intrigued to find out, as an inspiring woman herself, who Amber Gordon’s inspirational female was growing up: “Can I say my mom?” she giggles. “My mom and step-mom are both really strong women. My real mom had a lot of personal issues when she was growing up so she wasn’t really around much, so my step-mom was a role model for me growing up and then my mum did a complete 180 and has been the most supportive person on the planet ever since. She’s an incredible woman.” After 45 minutes our phone call, which had felt like a chat with an old friend, was coming to an end.

So, came the final question, what does the future look like for Femsplain? “My short-term goal is to have a little full-time team working together in the office. We also have an offline component of events, so hire event coordinators and a visual artist to do great graphics on the site. With staff comes more content, so long-term, the future is that we have this fully sustainable community that’s connecting and new people are meeting each other through Femsplain.” “Offline, we would have events happening all over the world with people who met each other on Femsplain meeting in real life and supporting each other, doing things together and talking about their life experiences.” “Femsplain was born because we decided we had to do something, so just the act of doing something is what we hope will inspire others. If you see something wrong and you think you can change it, just do it.” Visit and join the empowering female community.

“Destroy the idea that men should respect women because we are their daughters, mothers and sisters. Reinforce the idea that men should respect women because we are people.�

We meet the creator of Bye Felipe, an Instagram account that publicly shames men who are arseholes on the internet, basically.

Source: Instagram



Girl rejects guy online. Guy goes batshit crazy. Alexandra Tweten collates and posts the evidence to her Instagram account “Bye Felipe” Bloom sat down with her to talk about men, online abuse and giving women a voice.

Last October, Alexandra Tweten, 27, from Minnesota set up the Instagram account Bye Felipe (based on the Bye Felicia* meme) where people send in examples of dickheads turning into bigger dickheads when getting rejected or ignored by girls online. “It started when a woman on Facebook posted a screenshot of an exchange she had on Ok Cupid. The guy had sent her a message, she didn’t reply, 12 hours later he called her an “asshole.” I had a similar conversation where this guy messaged me three times. I said I wasn’t interested, so he lashed out saying “WHY THE FUCK NOT?!” Having been subject to online abuse a handful of times, Alexandra said she often felt

taken aback and shocked that men could be such... well, arseholes. “I started the account to commiserate with other women about how we’re treated, and also to show men what it’s like to be a woman online” Alexandra told Bloom. “A lot of men who don’t message people like that have no idea we even get these messages.”

“I said I wasn’t interested so he lashed out saying ‘WHY THE FUCK NOT?!” Users are urged to submit their screenshots of conversations featuring any online abuse they’ve experienced. These screenshots are then published on the Bye Felipe Instagram for other users to discuss, relate to and raise awareness of.

What followed the launch of Bye Felipe were messages from women around the world being subject to online abuse, as well as Alexandra doing interviews with major news outlets about Bye Felipe. “When I started it, I didn’t really have a goal in mind, I just wanted to make women’s voices heard and provide a cultural commentary. I wanted it to be funny, but at the same time horrifying and real.” “I never expected it to get so much attention, but after it blew up online, I wanted to bring it to the public consciousness and I think I did, as people were beginning to talk about it with their friends.” The Instagram account primarily focuses on calling out and publicly shaming men in a lighthearted, humorous way. 037

“We don’t care about what your penis looks like or how much money you make. All we want is for you to treat us like human beings instead of pieces of meat” However, Alexandra notes: “I have received submissions in the past containing scary threats or of evidence in stalking trials, where the woman brought the guy to court.” But she prefers to use examples of men spitting their dummies out because they can’t get what they want. There are definitely a lot of serious examples, however Alexandra is quick to mention the Tumblr ‘When Women Refuse’ (whenwomenrefuse. which deals with more serious cases of abuse.

“Men inherently possess more power just because they were born male” Since launching Bye Felipe, the response has been immense, with both men and women celebrating Alexandra’s way of providing a platform for women who often deal with abuse but do not talk about it. However, with the good comes the bad. Alexandra has been called everything from a “feminist whore” to a “dumb cunt” by males that have been featured on the Instagram account but also males who have not. A question that often gets raised when people interview Alexandra is “why do you only feature men turning hostile?” and she told Bloom exactly why:

“I’ve had maybe one or two submissions from men, but it’s so rare that women turn hostile. It’s also not really comparing apples to apples because of the networks of power in our society. Men inherently possess more power just because they were born male. They don’t walk down the street fearing that a woman is going to rape or murder them because of what they’re wearing.” Some men have even gone as far as sending abusive messages to Alexandra’s personal account. One message that landed in her ‘Other’ inbox from someone featured on the Instagram account read: “I gotta ask, what is it with you feminist whores who act like you’re some heroes and brave courageous fighters defending poor oppressed women?” and “The article was fucking stupid. And I think you’re dumb. I also think you’re a dumb cunt, for thinking you can tell a man, ie me how to talk.” (Note: we had to correct a lot of the grammar in this but the stupidity and self-entitlement remains. I mean, HOW DARE SHE TELL A MAN HOW TO TALK?! A MAN! YES, A REAL WALKING, TALKING MAN.) Of course, getting angry messages from Felipe’s comes as part of her job, but Alexandra is still an extremely humble, strong-minded and empowering voice for women: “I’m writing a book about Bye Felipe and I hope to deliver some feminist theory

and ideas to the masses.” Needless to say: we’re sure that the book will provide a great and very real read for males and females alike.

“If a woman isn’t interested in you, that’s okay. Just move on” Finally, when asked how she would address the Felipe’s of the world, Alexandra told Bloom: “We don’t care about what your penis looks like or how much money you make. All we want is for you to treat us like human beings instead of pieces of meat. Just because we exist, it doesn’t mean you are entitled to our attention, time or body. If a woman isn’t interested in you, that’s okay. Just move on.” If you get a dickhead online that won’t leave you alone or spits his dummy out because you’re not interested, feel free to send a screenshot to byefelipe@gmail. com – and don’t forget to send him a swift “Bye Felipe” with a waving hand emoji – the middle finger emoji doesn’t exist yet. *Bye Felicia originated from the 1995 film ‘Frida’ and is an expression used to dismiss someone. This person is usually irrelevant and annoying.


You are good enough By Shannon Hodge On the morning of 19 March this year, a male shouted out of the top window of a half-way house “you fucking fat cunt” as I walked down the street. Now, a few years ago, I would have burst into tears at that remark. Hell, a boy said “look at the state of her” to me in year seven and I ran all the way home crying uncontrollably. But thanks to wonderfully strong women in my life like my mother, I’m a lot surer of myself now – and although we may not see it at the time, these horrible humans who use words to degrade others, actually end up helping us grow and progress further in life. For the record, I’m a UK size 12-14, five-footeight and I probably weigh a little more than the BMI scale would like me to, but hey! I’ve got 34E boobs and an arse that could house a small town. I’ve always thought I was fat. Whether it was when I was 8 years old getting changed in the toilets at primary school, when I first considered making myself sick at 14 years old and even now at 20 years old. Needless to say, when I look at older photos: I wasn’t fat. At all. Fair enough, I’m chubby now – comfortability in relationships and final year at university does that to you. I’ve always had a big baby face, I’ve always had an arse and chunky thighs (cheers nanna) and there’s no doubt that I’ll always find faults with myself. Who doesn’t? We are our own worst critics. Fact. But why do we do it? We tell ourselves we’re not good enough. We get jealous of Sally down the street who has a brand new car, does her weekly shop at Waitrose and speaks four languages fluently. We ask ourselves why

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we haven’t got our shit together like Sally. But the fact is, Sally probably doesn’t have her shit together either. Inner discontent gets to us all at some point. We’re always thinking we should be better, smarter, prettier, faster, more organised. We have high standards for ourselves and hate it when we don’t achieve the unattainable goals we set. We ignore the amazing qualities we already have to try and be more like Sally. We watch TV and read magazines wishing our own lives away for someone else’s. Seen or unseen, most people are on a journey to self-improvement, hoping that with just a little bit of work, they’ll miraculously feel better about themselves: naïve to the fact that they’ll find something else they want to change almost instantly. Now, I’m not saying change is bad: if you want to learn to run, you run until you can’t run no more. If you want to lose weight: I’m behind you every step of the way. If you want to learn a language: you learn the shit out of that language. But just know, that if you don’t do it, you’re not a failure and there’s a whole alphabet left if plan A doesn’t go to plan. We’re bombarded with messages from being children that we need to be better. Our teachers commented on our weaknesses, children at school were baffled that you wore Velcro shoes because you couldn’t tie your shoe laces yet, your parents pointed out the one D on your report card before congratulating you on the nine As. Even as we grew up, the media told us that if we’ve got shiny hair, a small waist, no cellulite and a pretty face, we’d get everywhere. Naturally, not everyone is so lucky.

With this, we then forget about our own needs and try developing ourselves into someone else’s ideal image. We crave the love from others and forget self-love: accepting ourselves unconditionally. In the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert ends her marriage and leaves everything behind to travel the world. A poignant quote that stood out to me is when she’s sat on a tiny beach alone and tells herself aloud: “I love you, I will never leave you and I will always take care of you.” It’s a perfect example of self-love. It means accepting that you can’t do everything perfectly because nothing is perfect. And deep inside of us, we do have a teeny weeny sense of security that comes out every so often. Mine came out when the pleasant gentleman at the half way house called me a “fucking fat c*nt.” Rather than letting him defeat me, I reminded myself that in fact, I’m doing a shittonne better than him in life. And for once, I treated myself how I would comfort a friend in the same situation; reminding myself of the fucking amazing qualities I do have. And I think that’s what we need. An important step to self-love is being good to yourself, like you would a best friend. You wouldn’t tell a friend “actually you could do with losing weight like that guy said” - so why tell yourself that? You don’t expect perfection from anyone else and you appreciate everyone else’s positive qualities so don’t push your own qualities aside for someone else’s. Build on what you’re good at and the rest will come. And remember, you are good enough. Always.


Bloom meets Lillian Bustle, a plus-size burlesque dancer living in New York City. We talk body confidence, self-loving and stripping.

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Interview: Lillian Bustle By Shannon Hodge

Source: Pinterest

Suddenly the audience were interested, as were we, leaning forward in our seats curious to hear more. “We as women are programmed to tell each other “you’re not fat” because to many people, fat is the worst thing that you could be. Society has turned the word fat into a synonym for ugly but that’s not what fat means. Fat just means fat. I’m 5ft3 so I call myself short. I’m married so I call myself a wife and I’m 240lbs so I call myself fat and I am beautiful, so I call myself beautiful.” Amazing. Never had we ever However, after years of retweeting, reblogging and heard anyone sum up something so perfectly. instagramming body positivity quotes all over our social media channels, we’ve finally found a body But how? How had Lillian managed to dismiss all of these negative synonyms for the word positivity talk that’s actually incredibly inspiring. “fat” while the rest of us are still using it as an The talk comes from Lillian Bustle, a plus-size insult to ourselves? We spoke to Lillian to find burlesque dancer from New York. She did a out all of her body-loving secrets: “BURLESQUE TEDx Talk at the beginning of 2015 aptly called DANCING!” she exclaimed. “I grew up feeling “Stripping Away Negative Body Image.” like I had to hide my body all the time but She starts the talk with the three words that made in burlesque, I get to re-invent myself every the audience awkwardly silent: “I am fat.” In reply time I go on the stage. I choose any persona, to an incredibly shocked and quiet audience, she any character I want, and it’s never “wrong,” continued: “The F word right? I happen to use this because I’ve chosen to inhabit it, and I get to word as a self-descriptor, and I don’t use it to put call the shots. So it’s empowering because myself down and I certainly don’t say it in hopes I always felt trapped in my body growing up, someone will say “oh no, you’re not fat!” because but burlesque makes me feel free. It’s taught that’s the thing, nobody says to a tall person “oh, me to love my body in ways I never knew were possible.” you’re not tall!” When it comes to body image, it can be easy to feel fatigued by the messages to “stop hating ourselves” or “love our body” or to “stop listening to what the mass media tells us is the beauty ideal.” Yeah, loving your body isn’t easy, I’m sure even Beyoncé has her down days but these messages are thrown around as if they’ll instantly make you love yourself. Self-love takes a lot of time, experience and plenty of down days (Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen overnight!)


Talking about burlesque, she said “There’s all kinds of burlesque, everything you could ever think of and even kinds you would never think of! You’re also likely to see a great deal of body diversity, yes there’s still the traditional showgirl bodies but there are all kinds of bodies on these stages – I’m not saying it’s utopia – but I am saying it’s kind of your best chance to see a band of wonderfully diverse people gleefully celebrating their beautiful bodies on stage.”

“Society has turned the word fat into a synonym for ugly” We love the sound of it already – intersectionality at its best. But how would newbies like us get into burlesque? Lillian recommends doing lots of research: “take classes, read about the history of burlesque, see shows, watch acts online and get to know the legends! Oh, and know that it’s really unlikely that it’ll ever be your sole source of income. Do it because you can’t NOT do it, not because you think you’ll be able to make a living from it.” Talking about money led us to discuss the ageold comparison between stripping and burlesque dancing. The two are very often compared in debates, burlesque has even been considered worse than stripping as journalist Liam Mullone said “people enjoying a lifestyle are choking and denigrating people trying to build a life.” We asked Lillian what she thinks the difference between strippers and burlesque dancers is: “Strippers make money. Badum bum!” she laughs. “Seriously though, most people attribute the main difference to the focus of the male gaze. The vast majority of burlesque audiences are women, whereas in traditional strip clubs it’s mostly men. I have super respect for strippers and burlesque performers alike.”

Being in a role where you get butt-naked on a stage in front of a shit-load of people can be intimidating, whether it’s a burlesque performance or a strip club performance. But as well as laying themselves bare (quite literally), performers are also at risk of receiving criticism. We asked Lillian if she had ever been criticised for being a plus-size burlesque dancer: “Not yet, which I’m still kind of shocked about. Or rather, not to my face. The YouTube comments section on my TEDx talk is full of people who think I have no business being on stage, but there will always be critics. I have many friends of different shapes who have encountered nastiness about their bodies, whether blatant or passive-aggressive. But I’m finally at a point where I accept that you can’t please everyone, and it’s worth the risk of rude or hurtful comments to keep performing. Worth it for myself, and worth it because I do believe that putting my body on stage is important. I love this quote from the late fat activist Heather McAllister:”

“Any time there is a fat person onstage as anything besides the butt of a joke, it’s political. Add physical movement, then dance, then sexuality and you have a revolutionary act” Amazing. All of this body-positivity is making us want to strip down to our kegs and walk

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around town right now. But it hasn’t been an easy journey to self-loving for Lillian. In her TEDx talk, she tells how the number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner – “I know that wish. I made that wish. What a waste of a wish!” she sighs. And despite being happy in her own body now as an adult, Lillian admits that she still has body hang-ups. Who doesn’t? “Skin breakouts get me down, and bad hair days. There’s still a part of me that feels like I have to try a little harder because so many people still think that fat people are messy and lazy, and I don’t want to reinforce that stereotype. I know it’s not my job to change the minds of everyone with a bias, but I feel like I need to represent as “well-put-together” for my fellow fatties. Of course if I’m being rational, I know that having a couple of zits or frizzy hair isn’t a reflection on my actual worth. The part of my body I still have a hang-up about is my tummy, particularly the hangy part. I even hate that it’s medically referred to as an “apron.” I try to really get in touch with it when it bothers me. I spend some belly cuddle time, or get naked in front of a mirror and take my whole self in so I’m not concentrating on any one area. I forgive myself for being upset or angry and focus on times when I’ve felt great about my body, and I have a couple of outfits that I feel both comfortable and sexy in no matter what.”

“So many people still think that fat people are messy and lazy, and I don’t want to reinforce that stereotype” Although Lillian is quick to point out that not everybody can get themselves out of a self-image emergency, so recommends calling friends who may bring you back to reality. However some people still may not believe their friends and may find themselves stuck in a rut. Lillian says “when it gets to that point, the person really needs to see a professional. If you’re in a dark place where you’re so upset about your appearance that kind, uplifting words from the people you love most don’t help at all, you need to find someone outside your circle of friends and relatives to talk to. I know that talking to a professional mental health counsellor can sound scary, but I can’t emphasize enough how my therapist has helped me over the

past couple of years. Sometimes you have to hire a pit crew to get you back in the race y’know... Did I just make a car metaphor?” she laughs. So as well as burlesque dancing, we asked Lillian if she had any other tips on learning to love ourselves, which is where she repeated a quote she said in the TEDx talk: “Burlesque performer Fancy Feast told me “Being beautiful is a decision that you make.” Can you imagine if someone had told you that when you were 10? Most of us sit around waiting for permission, some affirmation, for some other to swoop in and tell us that we’re worthy, that we’re beautiful. It doesn’t have to be like that.” As our interview came to a close, we asked Lillian what she would tell her teenage self if she could send a message in a bottle. Her reply was poignant for a lot of us at Bloom, and quite emotional to hear: “Oh man. I’d tell her to hang in there. I’d tell her that she was never a monster, and that she will find someone who will love her body, not in spite of what it is, but because of what it is. I’d tell her that life gets so much better after high school, and that one day she will realise she doesn’t have to hide anymore.” If you haven’t seen Lillian Bustle’s TEDx Talk yet, check it out on Youtube by searching “Lillian Bustle” – you won’t regret it!


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Being a 20-something in NYC By Shannon Hodge Nothing in the world can describe the feeling you get when driving into New York City, as you first see the iconic skyline. You instantly forget about the rising vomit in your throat from the crazy yellow cab driver’s driving, and push the impending fear of death-by-taxi to the side – because after years of dreaming about it, you’re finally in NEW FUCKING YORK. For the first time in forever, I felt at home walking through the streets of Manhattan, even if I did look more Hannah Horvath from Girls than Carrie Bradshaw. A chubby, burger-loving Yorkshire lass had landed in the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” and people were actually impressed by my “awesome British accent” – if you’ve heard a Yorkshire accent, you’ll know it’s a massive achievement to be complimented on those rough Northern tones. Within a single week of being in New York, I had seen my first red carpet with the likes of Taylor Swift, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, and Tom Hanks walking down it, ate a minimum of one burger a day, jogged for a maximum of 10 seconds in a snowy Central Park – just to say I’d done it of course tried ordering a Starbucks CAWFEE in a New Yorker accent, sang “I’m

on a boat” whilst riding the Staten Island ferry past Lady Liberty herself, ate my bodyweight in street food (99c for a pizza slice the size of your head? Yes please!), sat on an open-top bus viewing the NYC skyline at sunset, pointed gleefully at the building where Anna Wintour resides with the American Vogue crew, navigated my way around the subway successfully and ran around shops the size of my hometown squeaking “LOOK HOW BIG IT IS!”

pizza than the Italians, better bagels than the Europeans and they are the master blasters of frozen lemonade. Oh. My. Lord. As well as falling in love with the way New York made my all-time favourite meal - the burger - I also fell in love with every part of the city from the people singing on the subway to the way the city lit up on a night time. I fell in love with the freezing cold temperatures, I loved that myself and my boyfriend got on the Kiss Cam in Times Square on Valentines Day and I even came to love the angry bogeyed Disney characters that photobomb your Times Square tourist pictures and then demand that you pay them a tip afterwards. Within one week, New York had spun me around, wined me, dined me, taken me for long romantic walks through the city, showed me all of its hidden secrets and stole my heart forever as it kissed me goodbye.

As you may have noticed, part of me being in my element in New York was the food, oh the food… Now I’m not sure what sort of voodoo magic New Yorkers do, but hands down, they make better

As the famous quote by Tom Wolfe goes: “One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” And I cannot wait for the day I return. I love you, New York. 049


nEW YORK city DON’T get a yellow cab! Besides 99% of the drivers in New York driving like they have a deathwish, the traffic is awful too! Take the subway - it’s a lot cheaper and faster. If you download the New York MTA Map and Route Planner to your phone too, you’ll be using the subway like a pro New Yorker within a day.

DO: GO TO THE TOP OF THE ROCK - The views are amazing and you get the Empire State Building and Central Park in your photos too! Plus it’s a lot less crowded and you’re only a few floors away from The Rainbow Room: the Rockefeller’s cocktail bar with a view! I recommend going up just before sunset for the best views of the city. DON’T: GO UP THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING - Unless you’re desperate to say you’ve been up the Empire Stare building, it’s really not worth it. The queue’s are upwards of two hours to get in and the view ain’t half as good!

DO make the most of all of the ridiculously cheap and delicious food. Dunkin’ Donuts are less than a dollar each and blow Krispy Kreme donuts out of the water. They also do amazing breakfast bagels! Shake Shack is another NYC gem (we have it in London but it’s 1000x better in New York, trust us!) - the burgers are to die for! If you fancy a traditional American breakfast, head to a diner (wherever you are in the city, you’re bound to be a few blocks away from a diner) Again, American buttermilk pancakes make our pancakes seem beyond average - not to mention the face they have maple syrup with EVERYTHING in the US.

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DO go shopping! New York shops are literally a supersized version of ours, plus, the make-up is so much cheaper over there (hello MAC!) However, the best shops were the ones that we don’t have over here. Kate Spade Saturday is the cheaper baby sister of Kate Spade and has handbags for less than $100! Bookmarc is Marc Jacobs’ stationery shop based on Bleecker Street in Chelsea village. While I was there in February, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid were doing a book signing! Finally, Chelsea market is worth a visit! It’s like a combination of London’s Borough and Camden markets. There’s food and drink aplenty as well as lots of lovely little independent stalls!

DO: MAKE THE MOST OF NEW YORK’S MUSEUMS (IF THAT’S YOUR THING) - New York is home to some of the world’s biggest museums including the American Museum of Natural History. Luckily for us bargain hunters (read: tight arses), the entry fee for museums is only a recommended fee so basically you can pay $1 to get in to them! DON’T: BUY TOURS FROM STREET SELLERS (BOOK IN ADVANCE!) - Whether it’s for a bus tour, an airport transfer or a broadway show, it’s rare that you ever find a bargain from street-sellers. You’re better off looking online in advance (I managed to get two return airport transfers for less than £20 online before arriving.)

DO make the most of the free things to do in the city! The Staten Island Ferry goes past the Statue of Liberty every half an hour and is completely free - no tickets required! Once you’ve finished seeing Lady Liberty, head towards Brooklyn Bridge and walk across it. The views of the Skyline are amazing and it’s one of those things that you can tick off your bucket list. Another necessity when going to New York is to visit the 9/11 Memorial and see the tallest building in NYC, the Freedom Tower, better known as World Trade Center One. (Fact: It is now home to the Condé Nast family.)


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WEEK OVERHEARD 1. ”They have seven editors sitting in the front row. Don’t they have work to do?” 2. ”Why do they have better seats than me?” 3. “Let’s just stand in a circle and look bitchy.” 4. “There is no such thing as a grown-ass man.” 5. “These girls look colder than a polar bear’s vagina.” 6. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this because my arm hurts from Wii bowling.” 7. “I’m too sober for her kind of drunk.” 8. “Don’t Instagram that. What are you, a fucking tourist?” 9. “I’m going to start a foundation for victims of chub rub.” 10. “I’ve been chain smoking for days. My lungs are the new black.” 11. “I should have worn them without underwear.” 12. “I could have gone to Goodwill to see that.” 053

Wool coat, £110, Zara. Striped cigarette trousers, £80, Jones. Beanie hat £10, H&M



Cocoon coat, £175, Zara. Striped cigarette trousers, £80 Whistles. Bag, £645 Fendi

Personalised poncho, £895, Burberry. Boots, £190, Kurt Geiger. Bag, £590 Kate Spade NY

Cocoon coat, £80, H&M. Metallic trousers, £140 Mango. Faux fur stole £35 Chinatown

Fur coat, £135, Chelsea market. Boots, £180 Kurt Geiger. Bag, £825 Charlotte Olympia

Red leather jacket, £895, Bespoke. Leather trousers, £80 Zara Men. Hat, £645, vintage


Coat £1375, Prada. Jeans, £80, Mango. Fur stole £725 Burberry, Chelsea boots £90, Topshop



We headed out on to the streets of Manhattan to find those rare people that know how to put an outfit together and rock the shit out of it! It was -16 and they still managed to look incredible!


Cultural Appropriation vs Appreciation By Shannon Hodge Ever seen a white girl wearing a bindi? Shopped the new ASOS Africa trend because it’s “pretty?” Worn a hamsa hand necklace without knowing its cultural meaning? Bloom editor Shannon Hodge explores the difference between culture appropriation and cultural appreciation and how we can avoid oppressing cultural groups. When it comes to wearing, designing or even writing about fashion from other cultures, there’s a high chance that someone somewhere is going to be offended and you can never be quite sure whether what you’re wearing is cool, ‘hipster’ or just plain offensive.

at Coachella unaware of that cultures history. It is the girl who mocked an Asian at school for wearing a Bindi, but just bought one from Topshop to look “different” at Leeds Festival. It is the question to some media outlets: why does a black bum only look good in white skin?

Cultural appropriation however, goes way beyond offending people: it is the continued pattern of disempowering groups that are already targets of oppression. It is girls wearing Native American headdresses

A huge example of cultural appropriation this year, comes from Kim Kardashian’s derriere – which I’m sure the entire human race has seen enough of to last them a life time. However, what is concerning about this

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particular event is that Kim’s #BreakTheInternet photoshoot for Paper magazine mimicked a serious time of oppression for young black women. The photographer who shot the campaign, Jean-Paul Goude, is said to have recreated his own photo of Carolina Beaumont from 1976. The original photo shows a naked black woman balancing a champagne glass on her behind just like Kim. The picture was one of many pictures in Goude’s book, Jungle Fever, where women were

fetishised and their bodies even animalised for photos. However, the oppression does not come from the book. The oppression comes from the days where black female slaves would be forced to balance objects on their large derriere’s as a form of entertainment for their masters. Talking about cultural appropriation, beauty and diversity lecturer at the Royal College of Art Emmanuelle Dirix said: “As a practice, it’s been going on for a long time. We’ve always had cultural exchange through trade routes. In terms of cultural appropriation, we have to look at an era of colonial expansion because that entails a different form of cultural borrowing or theft because there is a sense of entitlement involved.” White-washing in Hollywood movies is also a huge issue for cultural appropriation. Pan, the latest Peter Pan remake to hit cinemas this summer has been criticised for the casting of white actress Rooney Mara, as Tiger Lilly - a character who is known as a Native American in original

versions of the film. Things like white-washing and appropriating cultures have always gone on but in terms of us talking about it and questioning the problematics around it, Emmanuelle Dirix said “we really have to look at a far more recent period, say the last 30/40 years where people have started raising questions about all the problematics and the power relationships that are involved with this.” In February of this year, a pop-up shop was opened for 2 weeks in Selfridges – aptly called The Braid Bar. However, despite braids originating from black culture, the shop avoided giving credit where it was due and one of the co-founders even said in an interview with “After repeated requests from my daughter Lucy to braid her hair, I realised that there was nowhere in London that I could take her to get a quick braid and not have to pay a fortune for it.” A quick search on Google found that in fact, there are hundreds of places in London to go for braids, with the large majority of

them being for afro-Caribbean hair. However, that begs the question, was the woman suggesting that there wasn’t any braid bars for middle class white girls and that was why there was a “gap in the market” to put a braid bar in Selfridges? I’ll leave you to answer that one for yourselves. Emmanuelle Dirix explained: “I think cultural appropriation particularly is not about borrowing or taking inspiration, it’s something more specific – it’s taking something from a culture that is not your own then using it for your own benefit without consulting that culture about the appropriation.” Ultimately, there is always going to be a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation and it can be like treading on eggshells. So, before you wear a hamsa hand necklace, wear a kimono, or buy that “cool” beanie hat that looks like a turban please consider whether what you’re doing may appropriate the culture in question.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behaviour from a minority culture by the appropriating culture. “Appropriation” often occurs without any real understanding of why the original culture took part in these activities or the meanings behind these activities, often converting culturally significant artefacts, practices, and beliefs into “meaningless” pop-culture or giving them a significance that is completely different than they would originally have had. Source: Pinterest


#RECLAIMTHEBINDI April 2015 saw a huge rise in cultural appropriation awareness, as the hashtag #ReclaimTheBindi trended worldwide on Twitter. The hashtag invited Desi girls from around the world to join forces and tackle Coachella fashion once and for all. Thousands of tweets filled the Twittersphere with beautiful pictures of Desi girls wearing their bindis alongside their own messages about their culture being used as a fashion statement. Here are some of our favourites...

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Carol Rossetti is the Brazilian artist behind these series of illustrations, titled Women. Each image depicts a different woman from around the world, and contains a powerful message for that woman and all who may share her struggle. From celebrating the right to have body hair to encouraging body confidence to reassuring women who are so much more than their painful experiences, the illustrations tackle the insecurities and problems women face every day.

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FRANKI SAYS RELAX Meet Franki Le-Voguer, a 20-year-old playwright who has been described as “the voice of a generation.” Bloom editor Shannon Hodge sat down with her to talk sex, characters and her first play, The Plumbing. Hello! Tell us about The Plumbing... It’s about the lack of sex education in schools. I know that I for one never got enough education on relationships, consent or dealing with the emotional complications of sex. What a lot of people get taught is what I call The Plumbing, where they’ll say “this is a womb” - NOT EVEN A VAGINA! A WOMB! - “this is a penis and this is how to put a condom on.” From this, I knew that I wanted to write my first play about exactly how the sex education system affects our generation’s perception of sex. What did you aim to achieve with the play? I hated how I started to see a pattern in my own sexual experiences and I’m not ashamed to admit: most teenagers get their sex ed from porn, which creates this twisted perception of what sex should be like. Sex shouldn’t be about porn star moans, shaved vaginas or coming on someone’s face. It’s messy, for one, but through all the fanny farts, struggling with buttons and cleaning up, sex should be 066 - JUNE 2015 - BLOOM

about passion, desire and an uncontrollable, mutual expression of emotion. “Would people still want threesomes if they hadn’t seen them in porn? Would girls still wear suspenders and make-up to have sex in if it wasn’t expected on TV and film? I couldn’t answer these, but I aimed to explore them through The Plumbing” Another issue I wanted to tackle was sexuality. Growing up with LGBT influences, I felt it was unfair that people felt forced to “pick a side” when exploring their own sexuality. This message ended up rolling in with the play’s themes about sex and how it shouldn’t matter what people have in their pants, as long as it’s safe, consensual and you’re passionate about the person. Whilst being mindful of how your actions may affect others, you should feel free to have sex with whoever you want. When did you begin to write the play? I wrote one scene between Vera and Will two

“...but through all the fanny farts, struggling with buttons and cleaning up, sex should be about passion, desire and an uncontrollable, mutual expression of emotion” years ago, which was on my laptop forever. Until last term when I finally thought, you know what, I can do this. I then wrote it over the course of two coffee-fuelled all-nighters!

she wasn’t ready for, or educated on, the decision she was pressured to make, and that’s the real issue I wanted to highlight with this play.

Was this your first time directing? Yes, it was completely terrifying! I’ve done a course on directing and, of course, been directed as an actor myself, but I honestly just kind of threw things at the wall and hoped they’d stick!

Who’s your favourite female character in it? Definitely Vera! I’m biased though. She started as a vehicle for my own voice, but after the first scene was written she became entirely her own character and I actually ended up disagreeing with her quite a lot!

What was the response before/after the play? It was the response before the play that drove me to complete it. I held a read-through of the first draft, and everybody loved it. After the play, well... I was overwhelmed! The response was phenomenal. It had the exact reaction I was hoping for. People of all ages and genders (including my mum!) commented on how relatable the play was. It sparked debate on all the topics I wanted to highlight.

Do you think 14-year-old Franki would’ve benefited from seeing The Plumbing? Absolutely! The whole concept was about writing something I wish I’d seen when I was a teenager.

The most amazing thing was the play being called ‘the voice of a generation’ on Twitter by Perform L8. I think that The Plumbing raised a lot of issues that many people my age never really got the chance to talk about. There were definitely a few light bulbs going off in the audiences both nights, like “Oh, fuck, of course!”

Are you writing any more plays? If so, what? I am! I’ve written an extract for a play called Bye, about the pressures put on people who identify as bisexual. I’m also writing a play called Woman in Tracksuit, about a woman who consistently follows ridiculous sex tips from Cosmo in the hopes of ‘pleasing her man.’

Why is it so important that we talk about sex? Because we’re taught not to! I was lucky enough to grow up with friends who were open about sex, relationships and dealing with each other’s emotions. But I also encountered people who didn’t have that and had some absolute horror stories. (Even I had terrible experiences that I look back on now and cringe.)

Will you be taking the play any further? I really hope so, my dream is to see it tour schools and universities so that its message reaches out to the people who need it.

Sounds great. Thanks Franki!

I think relationship and consent education are both vital too. In the play, Vera says no to sex multiple times until giving in and saying “alright.” It’s an experience that unfortunately, many of us have gone through, and it’s not right. ‘No’ should mean no the first time. Vera very much liked the partner in question, but 067


SEX SLIP-UPS Source: Pinterest

1. “I’ll never forget the look of terror on the virgin’s face when I queefed. He looked like he had felt the whole world crumble beneath him.” 2. “I was showing off about the fact I had no gag reflex to a guy. Two minutes later his lower abdomen was covered in vomit.” 3. “Me and my boyfriend were being adventurous when he tried lifting me. Instead he dropped me on the floor and I slipped a disc in my back.” 4. “My exes dad walked in on us going at it. Rather than jump under the covers we decided to play a fucking game of musical statues with him still inside me! WORST.” 5. “I was drunk. He went down on me and as I reached climax I felt a gushing. I thought I was finally experiencing ‘squirting’ until it continued for roughly 30 seconds. It wasn’t come. It was piss.” 6. “Took a guy back after a night-out, everything was all well and good until he burst into tears half-way through and started telling me all about Jess, his ex-girlfriend.” 7. “Decided to incorporate food into our sex-life. I laid a platter of sushi across his tummy and proceeded to eat it off of him. Lesson: don’t suck a guys dick with wasabi remnants in your mouth.” #SEXISONFIRE


Girl on the Net is an anonymous feminist sex blogger at

On sexy pictures and shame... By Girl on the Net Yes, they are my tits. Not bad, eh? Or, realistically, nowt special, just your common-or-garden boobs, clad in cheap underwear and shot on a smartphone. I get that boobs are pretty popular. As far as “popularity on the internet” is concerned, they come second only to cats. Were it possible to combine the two, by placing a tiny kitten in my cleavage, I’d have done so. Over the course of thirty years on this planet, I have sent fewer than ten naked or vaguely indecent pictures of myself to loved ones. Of those, only one of them included nipples, and one included cunt. I have no regrets about sending most of them – they’re relatively basic, utterly anonymous shots like the one I’ve posted above. In short: should any of these turn up on the front page of the Daily Mail, I won’t be spitting coffee over my laptop and begging for them to be burned.

The regrets come partly because I’m not 100% sure the guy will have kept it to himself, but mainly because I don’t even wank like that. It’s an inaccurate depiction of my own masturbatory habits, and thus I suspect one of the least sexy pictures I’ve ever taken.

“I got the smut, but only in exchange for a blurry, oddly-angled close-up of my fingers deep in my own vagina” The second one I regret wasn’t taken by me. Halfway through a particularly energetic fuck, in a position the guy clearly loved, he asked if he could take a picture of me. I said yes, and he did.

But there are a couple I regret.

Looking at the picture afterwards gave me a genuine jolt of delight. As one who generally thinks my body is wrong in all the classic ways, this pic surprised me - I actually felt I looked hot.

SEXY PICTURES I REGRET The one I texted to a guy I had no intention of sleeping with again. I was drunk, and in the mood for someone relatively remote and distant. Some flirting, general horny chit chat, an early night with some of his personally-tailored smut and my own right hand.

The morning after I was walking on air: delighted at the slightly sore feeling of satisfaction after a delicious, no-strings fuck, and hugging myself in the knowledge that maybe I was sexy after all. Four hours later I found out that he hadn’t just shown me the photo – he’d sent it to half the people in his address book.

I got the smut, but only in exchange for a blurry, oddly-angled close-up of my fingers deep in my own vagina.

WHAT AM I ASHAMED OF? When people talk about naked pictures, one of the

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most common go-to emotions is shame – body shame, slut shame, the shame that comes from feeling like a dirty little fucker who should have known better than to let someone see your private bits. I think I’m so used to hearing about shame when naked pictures or videos are circulated that I find it hard to calculate what my actual feelings are towards the incidents I mentioned.

“I found out that he hadn’t just shown me the photo, he’d sent it to half his address book” Sure, I’m angry – I’m angry because trust has been broken, or might be broken, or because the significance of my rare pic-giving hasn’t been fully appreciated. There’s perhaps a pinch of self-loathing in there too. Not only am I not the greatest fan of my own body, but smartphones are not the most flattering tool with which to show it off. I’ve often been tempted to send something, but given up after spending half an hour contorting in front of a mirror to make sure that my tits are in shot, my face isn’t, and my knickers sit just right without showing a bikini line shadow or an uncomfortable bulge of hip fat.

fault. The second kind is one which is applied to me even though it baffles me. Shame is the same. I can be ashamed of that time I got so drunk I could barely walk, and phoned a close friend to tell him I was being chased home by pizza delivery guys (I wasn’t, obviously – they have more important things to do,) and although I still blush to think of it, I don’t feel any worse than I realistically deserve to. Picture shame, though? That’s applied – projected onto us. It comes about because we’re used to people reacting with horror to the idea that we have body parts and desires and (yay technology!) the ability to send them to each other over the internet. The shame applied to sexy pictures isn’t one that comes from my own beliefs about what’s right, it comes from other people’s reactions. So when people say “what would your mother think?” or “aren’t you worried your future children will be horrified by your sex blog?” what they’re actually saying is “don’t you feel ashamed?” Perhaps my answer should be “I might, but only if you make me.”

SEXY PICTURES AREN’T SHAMEFUL I’m cool with feeling these things. They are, after all, my own emotions and mistakes and neuroses. Shame, though? I don’t want to own any shame. Shame isn’t the product of the photo itself, it’s the product of the reaction. Shame – like guilt – is one of those emotions that isn’t always mine. There are many times I’ve beaten myself up about a perceived slight, or an insensitive comment, and wanted to beg forgiveness then be swallowed by the ground forever. There are many more times when I’ve felt I was in the right – that my ‘insensitive’ comment was actually a fair and frank assessment of whether someone or other was an arsehole – but I feel guilt anyway because other people are telling me to. The first kind of guilt I own, because I actually feel it, whether it’s come about by my own navelgazing or someone else highlighting a genuine



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A Body Revolution By Shannon Hodge

I have a very special relationship with my gym wear. I’m not going to lie, every time I put it on, it makes me feel like a goddamn bad ass. Everything from my weight lifting gloves, to my arselifting yoga pants to my freshfrom-the-states Chicago Bulls sports bra (it’s black and red with an angry looking bull on it and it just SCREAMS “look at me, I am a bad-ass!”) It makes me feel like a slightly porkier version of Ronda Rousey about to step into the ring to retain her UFC title. When I’ve got my gym kit on, I feel strong. I feel like I can do anything (read: most things - because lord knows burpees are the devil!) It signals to my body that we’re about to get down to business, ready to rumble and all that jazz. It reminds me that it’s okay to walk home from the gym looking like a cherry tomato, because I just lapped everyone else sat on the sofa. It tells me that I don’t actually hate exercise, I bloody love it. That’s why I love the Sport England campaign launched for women called #ThisGirlCan. A campaign focusing on empowering, motivating and encouraging women of all shapes, sizes, ages backgrounds and abilities, to get up and go. And my oh my do they go: the campaign shows the women swimming, spinning, dancing

running, wrestling and boxing. “I jiggle, therefore I am!” reads one caption. “I swim because I love my body. Not because I hate it” reads another.

“When I’ve got my gym kit on, I feel strong. I feel like I can do anything” Every happy endorphin that gets released after my usual workout was being released right at the moment of watching the video. Each hair stood up among tiny goose bumps on my arms. Finally there was a sport campaign out there for women and FINALLY women were starting to feel empowered and no longer ashamed to exercise: “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” read another caption. Without a shadow of a doubt,

every single woman in the video looked powerful and in control. There’s a focused energy and beams of happiness upon everyone’s face. Not a single one of the women were focusing on looking good, but rather to feel good (although, they all still looked bloody fabulous!) #ThisGirlCan is a campaign created by Sport England as a ‘celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.’ (And trust me, mine goes pillarbox red and IDGAF no more!) Earlier this year, the organisation found that 75% of us are put off the gym because we’re just so anxious of the judgement we might face, whether that be our VPL on the cross trainer, our sports bra being unable to tame our tits on the treadmill or if we’re going to end up going viral on the internet for using a machine incorrectly. 075

Writer Shannon Hodge and friends Aaron Trowse, Ganesh Rao and Abby Sterry at the 2014 Sunderland Color Run

It’s clear that there’s an urgent need for #ThisGirlCan. In fact, it’s probably the best female empowerment video we’ve seen, like, ever. There’s no denying that a message about loving your body because of what it does not how it looks, is imperative for self-conscious females born into a society of body shaming and false representations of beauty.

Admittedly, I started going to the gym to shift some extra pounds. I am and have always been uncomfortable in my own skin, but then I realised that not only is the gym good for my physical fitness: it’s bloody brilliant for my mind-set too.

“We’d all be much healthier and happier if we began to see exercise as a celebration of strength, not a way of punishing our weaknesses”

The quote that stood out for me the most in the #ThisGirlCan campaign however, was “I swim because I love my body, not because I hate it.” Hands up if you’re guilty of exercising as a punishment for gaining weight? I know I am. And as soon as we regard exercise as a necessary evil or a system to put ourselves through until we’re able to fit into that 2009 summer bikini ‘from back when we were skinny’, we stop wanting to exercise. How many times have you laid in bed huffing and puffing about going to the gym, for a run or to a fitness class?

Each gym session is an accomplishment: proof to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. I no longer worry about how red my face gets, or if my rolls are visible when I sit down, or if I leave a mini bum sweat patch on the seats (note: other people will mind, take a towel!)

We’d all be much healthier and happier if we began to see exercise as a celebration of strength, not a way of punishing our weaknesses.

I find that the times I now feel most confident in my body are after a gym session and believe me, there’s no better feeling than feeling happy in your own skin.

Use it as a way of investigating what our bodies are capable of, and an opportunity to build and strengthen from the inside out.

If you haven’t: watch the video. Let #ThisGirlCan be your Monday morning motivator, your friend when you’re feeling low

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or your reminder that YOU CAN and YOU WILL. Let’s learn to love and celebrate our bodies better, by showing everyone what they can do: what YOU can do. Get out there and show ‘em what you’re made of.

We grabbed five minutes with Melissa Jane Marshall, 23, a #ThisGirlCan ambassador and fitness instructor at Active Newcastle Describe your role - I’m an activity instructor for Active Newcastle and the North East Visually Impaired Club How did you react when you first saw the #ThisGirlCan video? - I felt really empowered and really proud of women! How do you think the campaign will inspire women? - It celebrates all women, no matter your race, age or size. It tells women that it’s okay to sweat or jiggle and pushes girls to motivate each other. What’s it like being an ambassador for #ThisGirlCan? - It’s amazing! I went to the launch party in Newcastle and met hundreds of inspiring women. Any personal fitness goals this year? - I will be running the Great North Run with support from #ThisGirlCan

Shannon Peters

Danielle Moore

Footmark Running Club

Wiltshire Runners

Helaine Hardy

Drina Revill

Melody Small

Lauren Berry

THESE GIRLS CAN TOO! We asked Bloom’s readers to send us their exercise pictures that best represented the This Girl Can campaign and we were inundated with lots of proud looking women biking together, running for charities, climbing mountains or even just working out at their local gym.

Sarah Wilson

If you’re ever feeling like you can’t do something, take a look at these girls and find inspiration in all of them. They too have wanted to give up some days, but they didn’t and if these girls can, then so can you!

Abby Sterry

Wheely Good Bikers

Amy-Lauren Fitzsimmons

Jade Thompson

Shannon Peters


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Trainers came flying back into the fashion world this past year thanks to the Chanel SS15 show, where models including Cara Delevingne beamed down the catwalk in super luxe trainers.


2015 has been a great year so far for designerfootwear collabs including Stella McCartney for Adidas and Kate Spade Saturday for New Balance We can’t wait to see who will collab next!

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Adidas ZX Flux £80

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Model: Vivien Rose Photographer: Ganesh Rao Creative Director: Shannon Hodge Make-up Artist: Megan Fife

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Pineapple Dungarees, ASOS £65, Striped Bandot Crop Top, New Look £8, Rose Gold Sliders, Primark £8


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Crochet Watermelon Dress, ASOS £42, NY Boyfriend Clutch, Pamela Barsky £15, Holographic Sandals, Primark £12

Sunglasses, New Look £8


Pineapple Dungarees, ASOS £65, Polkadot Crop Top, New Look £12, Rose Gold Sliders, Primark £8

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Jumpsuit, ASOS £55, Strawberry Clutch Bag New Look £12, Holographic Sandals, Primark £12

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Faux Suede Bandeau Playsuit, ASOS £25, Ice Cream Clutch Bag, New Look £12, Rose Gold Sliders, Primark £12 LEFT: Pineapple Sunglasses, Primark £2

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Mustard Kimono, £15, Faux Suede Bandeau Playsuit, ASOS £25


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We scouted high and low to find you the best SS15 clutch bags from both the high street and online.





















Here’s Bloom’s top pick of shoes for this summer! Though we must warn you, some of them are a little *over budget*


NEW LOOK £29.99







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4 As we’re nearing closer to festival season, the sudden rush to buy the perfect summer lip colour begins. Here at Bloom, we love a good coral lippy in summer, though we can’t help but think that the lip designs coming up *just might* get you a few more compliments and maybe even get you noticed by your favourite band! 093

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Source: Pinterest


We take a look at some of the best kick-ass books from some of the most empowering ladies in the business and give you the low-down on what to expect from each. With everything from fannies to feminism and sex to snoring, we’ve got you covered!

COME AS YOU ARE By Emily Nagoski (Scribe)

Emily sure knows her shit when it comes down to the nittygritty. This book explores everything about sex, all the bullshit lies we’ve been fed by the media and how easy it actually is to improve your sex life. It’s bloody empowering too. She tells us we’ve been lied to and that’s probably why we feel shit after a round or two in the bedroom. She’s also flipping hilarious and we really enjoyed the book at Bloom HQ (especially to say it’s quite a scientific book!)

HOW TO BE A WOMAN By Caitlin Moran (Ebury Press)

One of our favourites ladies packs a big fat feminist punch with this part memoir, part rant. We especially love the part where she tells the reader to stand up wherever they are and shout “I AM A FEMINIST.” As well as being piss-your-pants funny, the book is a wellneeded reality check for many young women. It tells us that it’s okay to fuck up and we’ve all probably done that gross thing or thought that unthinkable thought - it’s just Caitlin is the only one who will admit it! We would recommend that anyone with a vagina (and even those without) read this book because frankly, it’s fucking brilliant!

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL: A young woman tells you what she’s “learned” By Lena Dunham (Fourth Estate)

Lena Dunham took our feelings out for a field-day with this memoir. It takes every girl’s awkward yesteryears and shines a massive light on them saying: “Hey look it’s okay, I did that too” and that’s what we love about Lena. She uses her own life experiences to encourage others to talk about theirs, including some of her bad experiences in the chapter “Going along with it.” Bravo, Lena - we love you!

HOT FEMINIST: Modern Feminism With Style Without Judgement By Polly Vernon (Hodder & Stoughton)

Grazia columnist Polly Vernon grabs feminism by the tits in her first memoir as she boldly rejects traditional feminist stereotypes and says that in fact, we can be vain, want to be fancied and smash the patriarchy at the same time. We especially love the book’s non-judgement concept, because lord knows there’s enough of that shit in the world already!

IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? (And other concerns) By Mindy Kaling (Ebury Press)

If you didn’t already want to be bezzies with Mindy Kaling, you will now. It’s a memoir with an added sprinkle of goofiness, LOLs and a big-ass splash of female empowerment. Mindy focuses on female issues including body image, as she discusses how she once had a “bitch stylist that brought a shit-load of size zero dresses to a shoot.” After a little cry, Mindy marched back into the room and demanded the woman tear the back of the dress open to fit her. YES MINDY!


By Amy Poehler (Picador) Amy Poehler honestly discusses everything from her horrific snoring to going through a divorce in this candidly-written metaphorical melting pot of humour, essays, advice and of course, memoir of her life. The book hilariously covers Poehler’s career in comedy as well as her brutally honest accounts on sex, drugs and... comedy. If you ever wanted to swap your older sister/auntie/ mum for a cooler version, Amy Poehler is your go-togal! 097

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Bloom / Issue One  
Bloom / Issue One