U N C E N S O R E D V O I C E O F T O D AY
SPECIAL EDITION - INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
01 U N C E N S O R E D V O I C E O F T O D AY
TNF MAG March 2015
U N C E N S O R E D V O I C E O F T O D AY
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN DAY SPECIAL EDITION
Photography by Ryle Watson Model Asha Hadiyah
TNF MAG John Nunc, Mc. Rros, Pettrik Pretium Editor Rosia Begum Creative Director Selina Brown
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Hello everyone! It brings me great pleasure to introduce our first issue of TNF (The New Female) MAG and in honour of International Women’s Day 2015. Because women deserve to be celebrated and what you will read within these pages does just that. This magazine is a collection of uncensored creativity, synergy and passions from beautiful people all around the world. We have launched this magazine to bring together the creative’s to prove that there is more to what you see in everyday Media, there is realness and heart, and as an Editor I have limited my role as I want you to read the content as it came, untouched and raw.
Contact TNF MAG 2 St Philips Place, Birmingham United Kingdom B3 2RB firstname.lastname@example.org www.tnfmagcom Tel : +44 (0) 121 403 3773
I won’t keep you any longer since the magazine speaks for itself. I hope you enjoy reading as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. Until next time… Be happy! Rosia Begum Editor
CONTENTS 01 MARCH 2015
17 01. LEARNING TO BE UNAPOLOGETIC The best part about growing up is throwing away your insecurities, and not giving a damn what people think.
0 2 . I F O N LY M Y V A G I N A W A S A S F R E E A S A B O U R B O N B I S C U I T. . . It’s approaching the time of the month where my uterus makes its regular contribution to the uk economy.
10. 10 BOOKS EVERY WOMAN SHOULD READ A common desire amongst people is they wish they could read more, but what should you be reading?.
1 5 . 5 0 S H A D ES O F CO N T ROV E R SY The largely read/watched story 50 Shades of Grey has advocates whose plans are to boycott and highlight the flaws of its underlying message.
2 0 . PA N I C I ’ M 3 0 ! I was planning to do a new year’s eve style countdown to bring in my 30th birthday. If only i could turn back time...
24. HOW TO STOP PERFECTIONISM CALLING THE SHOTS Attempting to achieve perfection is like trying to take close up pictures of the sunset. 1
LEARNING TO BE UNAPOLOGETIC The best part about growing up is throwing away your insecurities. As we age and become fully aware of ourselves and our capabilities, we begin to know our self-worth and values.
CHARY SATHEA Although I have not mastered every spectrum of selfconfidence, my focus as I enter my mid-twenties is being unapologetic for who I am and what I want. I heard this quote from Spencer from Pretty Little Liars in an earlier episode, “Don’t be sorry for who you are and what you want.” After I heard that quote, I let the meaning seep through my thoughts and mind for a very long time. It resonated with the quote instantly and deeply. It was not until my recent lifechange that I begin to hone and execute the meaning of this quote. I realized that I apologized for no reason, and as women we are notorious for this kind of act. Have you counted how many times you’ve said “sorry” in a day? A study was shown that women felt inclined to say sorry
if they “deemed their actions offensive.” (Source: Live Science) I found myself apologizing for things that did not need to be apologized for, such as leaving a job that I was unhappy with or for listening to Taylor Swift at work. I do not find Swift’s lyrics offensive by any means, yet I was saying sorry for my interest in her music. Bazaar. Saying sorry for wanting to leave a job where I knew I was being mistreated makes me wonder why I was sorry in the first place. I was being disrespected and verbally abused, but I felt guilty for wanting a new job within my field because I have gotten close to my colleagues, but this should not matter. Why should I apologize for wanting to leave a company that is irrelevant to my career? Did I felt that I was
offending the company? That is when I reminded myself that I need to be unapologetic about my wants, especially big decisions regarding my life and my career. When it comes to certain aspects about ourselves and our life decisions, we have to be stubborn about them. The whole idea about doing what you want is truly stems off this subject. I wanted to incorporate this practice into my everyday life. Not only did I want to limit myself saying “sorry” on a regular basis, and defy the cultural norm and statistics as a young woman, but I do not need to be “sorry” for being who I am and for what I want. It does not make sense for you to apologize for being firm about your career choices and your interests and quirks.
PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: CLAIRE MACALLISTER
Shot in the photographer’s hometown of Melbourne, this series explores the clash of natural beauty in dilapidated environments, and begs the question – can harshness and delicacy overlap? Where does softness end and austerity begin?
I F O N LY M Y V A G I N A W A S AS FREE AS A BOURBON B I S C U I T. . .
IT’S APPROACHING THE TIME OF THE MONTH WHERE MY UTERUS MAKES ITS REGULAR CONTRIBUTION TO T H E U K E C O N O M Y. A S A L I F E T I M E VA G I N A OWNER AND LONGT I M E M E N S T R U AT E R , I , FOR MANY YEARS, HAD A N AW E S O M E L A C K O F S E L F - AWA R E N E S S W I T H REGARDS TO MY CYCLE. My infinitely patient husband used to give me timely reminders whenever I was approaching a Code Red Situation until the glorious geeks at Apple replaced his rolling eyes and pained martyr-face with a dudely little app that very courteously pings at me and (mercifully) never gives me a sarcastic ‘OOOH, HERE COMES BLOB WEEK!’.
And d’you know what? I have never been apologetic for having The Right Hump before and during my periods. Let’s not beat around the bush (I would snigger here, but girls don’t have bushes anymore). Menstruating is GRIM. Far be it for me to speak for all of womankind, but if you have them the general consensus is that monthlies are a total pain in the... well...EVERYTHING. Among the many and varied joys that a woman of childbearing age has to endure for up to two weeks a month are, according to NHS Choices...*drumroll* • fluid retention and feeling bloated, tummy pain and discomfort • headaches, backache, muscle and joint pain • changes to your skin and hair • breast tenderness and insomnia • dizziness, tiredness and nausea • weight gain (up to 1kg) And those are just the basic
physical manifestations that they can politely mention without offending Nana. No mention of blood clots, discharge, toxic shock syndrome, dogs randomly sniffing your fanny, multiple flushing, period knickers and having to deal with the grotesquery’s of public sanitary disposal ‘solutions’. They are also incredibly polite about our ‘psychological symptoms’. They refer to ‘feeling upset or emotional, irritable or angry’ and...Ta-Daaahhh – my personal favourite, ‘mood swings’. I call it ‘Feeling Like Shit’. I mean, DUH, of course we’re not going to be happy – OUR WOMB LINING IS FALLING OUT INTO OUR PANTS. Yeah, we do get a bit stroppy around blob week, but Christ on a bike, cut us some slack! I once stood at work talking to a customer and thinking ‘oh god, I’m leaking. I’m leaking and I can’t move and this customer just won’t stop talking and they want me to walk with them and it’s all
Artwork: Jamie McCartney
going to go to shit. HELPOHGOD!!’. I think we can be excused for snapping, right? All these repugnant things aside, there is a significant financial consideration that comes with the ability to produce eggs for the purposes of procreation. Every. Single. Month MILLIONS of women chuck pads, tampons and painkillers into their shopping baskets, contributing an incredible amount of income into a UK economy that does not by return direct enough funding into the needs of women. Up until 2000, our sanitary protection was subject to full VAT of 17.5%, after which it was dropped to 5% following a long campaign by women, supported by female politicians and championed by supermarkets like Asda, which chose to pay the VAT on our behalf.
• Lottery ticket sales • Jaffa Cakes • The printing of brochures, leaflets or pamphlets • Cold Sandwiches So you can buy a helicopter with your lottery win, sit in it eating sandwiches and a bag of Doritos while throwing flyers around that you’ve had printed to say: ‘CHECK ME OUT, I DIDN’T PAY VAT ON ANY OF THIS SHIT.’ I’M BEGINNING TO THINK T H E O N LY R E A S O N C H O C O L AT E B O U R B O N S A R E N ’ T TA X E D E I T H E R IS BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT KNOW T H E Y ’ D H AV E A F U L L SCALE YEAR-ROUND FUCKING RIOT ON THEIR HANDS.
Yes and no. It was a little win. There is STILL a 5% VAT charge on sanitary protection in 2015. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it? Well consider this. The following items DO NOT have VAT charges against them:
As crazed as I might sound, I don’t actually have an issue with taxation. It’s there for a reason. We pay it so we can reap the benefits of public services that enhance our lives. They are the reason we can visit galleries and museums free of charge, have lighting in our streets and our rubbish collected. I believe if you want something then you should pay for it. But therein lays the point.
• Helicopters • Tortilla Chips
I suffered with awful periods for years, but there were no real
Ain’t that awesome?
solutions and no investment or particular interest in providing any. When I fell pregnant, my midwives were exhausted. After the birth of my daughter, I was crammed into a post natal ward that wasn’t fit for purpose. I was patronised and disregarded by a ‘consultant’ who clearly felt Continued Professional Development didn’t apply when it came to what he called ‘women’s problems’. According to Cancer Research UK two of the top ten causes of female cancer deaths are sex-specific types (uterus and ovary), compared with just one type (prostate) in males. Emergency Caesarean rates in the UK are way above the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation. Anyone would think we didn’t pay our way. Or that we have incredibly specialist medical needs. If we’re going to pay a ludicrous level of tax on a function we have little or no control over then we just want a basic RETURN ON INVESTMENT . We are 50% of the nation and we’re being treated like our needs are more niche than those who buy helicopters. Funny that... 7
03 ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: ELEANOR SWEETNAM I T H I N K D R AW I N G S A R E S U C H A G R E A T W AY T O COMMENT ON SEXISM AS E V E RYO N E CA N R E L AT E T O A D R AW I N G WITHOUT FEELING L E C T U R E D AT.
Ellie Sweetnam is a 21 year old rising Graphic Design student at Camberwell College of Arts in London, her main inspirations comes from being a feminist alongside the teachings from my mother. She recently started to speaking her mind in situation that made her feel uncomfortable, her artwork comes from experiences that happen to her in everyday life from walking home or catching the Tube.
S H O RT S TO RY: DANCING WITH HUNGER
F H A R H U N A C H O U D H U RY S TA R I N G O U T AT T H E WINDOW, SHE LOOKED O U T A N X I O U S LY , HER FEAR MADE HER TIMID AND HAD TRANSFORMED HER INTO A COWERING F I G U R E , PA L E , T H I N A N D H U N G R Y. T H E HARD GRUMBLE OF HER S T O M A C H WA S R E A L I T Y STRIKING A BLOW, THIS I S YO U R L I F E SA L I N A , T H I S I S L I T E R A L LY YO U R L I F E . To be hungry day after day, to shudder at the sounds of hard Nazi’s boots on the cobblestones as they marched on down, leaving her to breathe a sigh of relief and despair. She was tired of all this, she wanted normality, she wanted more than she could ever have. She sighed. Her life felt like one long streak of hunger, forever aching for the comfort and familiar warmth of food which was like a non-existent oasis in the middle of the desert. Her parents were two isolated islands, strangers in one house, interacting only when they had to, she felt torn. Whilst reliving the chaotic reverberations of her parents shouting, they dwindled back into the coldness of the shadows as she heard a knock on the door. Her blood ran cold, she could feel her world crashing around her as she hung onto the window ledge and turned her head suddenly, closing her eyes for only a second, to feel a second of peace and calm. In one rigid movement she
turned and made her way towards the door, she started to pray to all and every God that she knew, please God, please keep the Nazis away from me please. As she made her way slowly towards the door, she remembered a moment when a Nazi had stared at her a minute too long, he was tall with tired-looking eyes and a red face, his whole demeanour changed when he had noticed her. She had felt her breathe quicken, her throat felt sore, she felt everything at that moment and wished he would just ignore her. He had kept on staring at her, had stopped her with a steady movement of his hand as he signalled her to halt, looked her straight into her eyes and said “You look very beautiful, where are you from?”At which point, she knew, she just knew that she had to leave. Run, just go. Her mind warned her. She suddenly turned sharply and ran, she could hear his distressed shouts in the background but all she could see in her mind were the front steps of her house, she needed to be there now. At that moment, she had panicked, she had prayed to all the Gods to have her reach her house safely without the Nazi following her. When she had reached her house, she had turned around to see nothing but autumn leaves twirling around in the clutches of the harsh wind as it controlled where they fell. Knock Knock Knock. They became more and more persistent. She took a deep breath and slowly opened the door. When she looked up, she saw the soldier in front of her, his face was a deep red shade, his eyes glistened with passion as they appraised her figure, before
she could slam the door shut, he had pushed the door aside and clambered violently inside. She began to breath irrationally and very very quickly as she looked about everywhere, her eyes refused to focus on him and on what was going on. She was too scared to look into his eyes as he had awkwardly made his way towards her wilting self, holding onto her delicate shoulders and making her look at him. An old Nazi soldier, gasping for breath and looking at her still, “What do you want?” She asked. “I just wanted to give you this”, he handed her some bread packed in a brown paper bag. “Please, have this’ He handed her the bread, took one last look at her and then left through the door, closing it silently as it creaked into submission. She began to weep with confusion and despair, what was this? Why was he being so kind to me? Then she remembered why he had seemed vaguely familiar to her, she remembered seeing a red face amongst the crowd of onlookers as she had danced as a street ballet dancer. People had been a blur but his flame-induced face stood out like a sore thumb, she was grateful for his expression of kindness but deeply confused by his status, his uniform and his ‘Nazi’ identity. She wanted to hate him but she realised that she hated what he stood for but not him specifically, he was irrelevant. Everything about this was. Her stomach grumbled and she smiled, taking the bread into her hands and waited for her parents to arrive, if they arrived. Only time would tell, until then she would wait. 9
05 W H Y I M U S T IDENTIFY AS A FEMINIST
AMARA LAWRENCE THE SCARIEST THING ABOUT OPPRESSION I S T H AT , T H E L A R G E R P E R C E N TA G E O F OPPRESSORS WITHIN A G R O U P , FA I L TO R E A L I S E T H AT T H E Y A R E OPPRESSORS. This thought appeared to me only minutes ago in a seminar on feminism where the question “is society equal?” received a resounding no from all but one member of the group. That member of the group is male. That simple question and response lead me to remember, “He who knows it feels it” – words I’d often heard my mum utter and thought little of until I was old enough to understand the weight of them myself. There is no possible way for a man to experience female oppression. They can sympathise, and they can empathise, but they cannot truly experience it. There
are misogynist traditions and practices so deeply ingrained into our society that we do not see them. His reason to believe that society is equal for men and women is built on his inability to see that it isn’t. His experience does not permit it. The topic of conversation moved onto marriage and this solidified my point. Being male, he sees that marriage no longer means the restraint and control of the woman. The females in the room saw that although this is true to an extent, the practice is still that a father gives his daughter away, and the wife takes the husbands name. Marriage is no longer about the exchange of property and yet society still follows the conventions of marriage as a transaction. Furthering this, we talked of how when two men marry it is convention for them to share names. Mr Smith and Mr Brown both become Mr Smith-Brown, but Miss Smith and Mr Brown become Mr and Mrs
Brown. The sacrifice is always the woman’s. This is something he will never experience because he will never be the woman. You may be wondering how this all relates to my title so here it is. Another question was raised in this seminar – “are you a feminist?”- and I raised a wavering hand. I have never classed my self as a feminist because I feel as though the issue of equality is in principle a human right issue. I never understood why there needed to be a separate title, and I suppose, a part of me believes that it shouldn’t have to be separated from this larger picture. However, I have taken for granted that my upbringing and experiences have granted me the ability to see that this is an issue. The reality is that we need the title “feminist” in order to shed light on the issue for those who cannot see. So, the next time someone asks me if I am a feminist I will say yes with confidence.
06 DREAM A LITTLE DREAM FOR… ME? ROHAA LANGENHOF
I came into contact with a woman this week, she sounded nice enough, curious, communicated well. She wasn’t quite sure what to ask so we tiptoed around for a while, and finally settled on asking about her relationship.
The woman didn’t recognise much of what I said. She said he was slow and lazy and never really did anything. He was currently unemployed, sitting around the house and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to change. Which, if you think about it makes sense. He’s looking ahead at his future, and in his view, there’s nothing there. He doesn’t see chances or wonderful experiences, just more of the stuff he’s already unhappy with and he’s not particularly motivated to put in lots of effort to get there, so he just sits around, because what’s the point? So she nags him, a lot.
It wasn’t going well, and she just wasn’t sure if this was something to pour more time and effort into or something to let go of entirely. She was considering having children but doubted this was the person to start a family with. She was frustrated with him but worded this carefully. Perhaps, hoping that I would be the one to put the topic on the table so she didn’t have to say it out loud how she felt, and that she was dissatisfied with her relationship and her boyfriend in general. Halfway into her story, I had the distinct feeling that her boyfriend was somewhat of a visionary, the kind of person who doesn’t look at the present but at tomorrow,
The magic answer? He doesn’t need to be told what to do. He needs to tell himself what to do and why he needs to do it. He needs to see a future that he can believe in, that is worth working towards, something that inspires him to get up in the morning because he’s so excited about getting there. He needs, not just a goal, but a dream. Somewhere in his life, he gave up on his dreams and the idea that the future could hold something wonderful. He decided it wasn’t going to happen, and so he didn’t see anything to work for. When I asked her what she wanted out of life, she said “Well,
you know, to be healthy and have a job and such.” But she has that. And she is not happy. She, too, needs a dream. For lack of it, all she has are vague feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, the sense it just wasn’t working out so she decided it was probably because her relationship was lacking, and that was supposed to give her this sense of fulfilment and love, right? No, her boyfriend is a sod and she has to make him change. We need to dream, each of us for ourselves. We need to look ahead, and imagine what we would like to see in our future, what would make it worth it. To ask ourselves, “What do you want? Who do you want to be, what kind of life do you want to live? What do you want to be doing? If you were to make a difference in the world, what would it be?” Without a dream to carry us forward, one that is strong and amazing enough to keep us going, we get stuck in the past. We try to change the people around us, hoping that they will give us a sense of meaning, and when that fails, we blame the other person. Or the job. Or the parents, or the children, or the world. If this couple both had their own dreams and were following them, she wouldn’t feel the need to nag him all the time to change because she was creating her own change, and her own happiness. In turn, he wouldn’t be so passive and apathetic, because he had something to invest his passion into. All the problems between them, and within them, would just fade, for this one simple thing; having a dream. 11
Artwork: Jessie Jacobson
I N YO U R L I F E T I M E YO U W I L L B E F R E Q U E N T LY TOLD TO SET GOALS, TO H AV E D R E A M S A N D I T A LW AY S S O U N D S L I K E A NICE THING TO DO, O N E D AY , H O W E V E R , THE FOLLOWING STORY SHOWS HOW IT’S NOT JUST NICE BUT E S S E N T I A L T O H AV I N G G O O D R E L AT I O N S H I P S .
who looks ahead at the future and is focused more on what is going to be than on what is now; the type to play chess and be really good at it because they naturally think that way already.
PHOTOGRAPHY CAN DRIVE SOCIAL CHANGE AND GIVE A VOICE TO THE DISADVANTAGED.
PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: SISIPHO ZAMXAKA Sisipho Zamxaka is a 19 year old that can always been seen with her camera, this aspiring photographer is currently doing second year i n j o u r n a l i s m a t Wa l t e r S i s u l u University in South Africa. Having always loved photography, she was formally introduced to it in her first year of varsity in a form of photojournalism, since then her love with humanitarian photography began. Her inspiration comes from the works of photographers Patrick Magubane a n d K e v i n C a r t e r.
MINDFULNESS Mindfulness is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days but what does it really mean and how can it help us?
RIGEL KENT T H E E A S I E S T W AY T O U N D E R S TA N D I T I S T O S I M P LY C O N C E N T R A T E O N T H E M AT T E R O R M O M E N T AT H A N D . We have thousands of thoughts bouncing around our minds at any one time not to mention the millions of outside influences that can affect our decisions. Each one of those can throw us off track in a matter of seconds. Stay conscious to the idea that the brain and the mind are not the same thing. Your brain will always (hopefully) stay in your head but your mind can wander to the other side of the universe and back before you realise your morning alarm didnâ€™t go off. We start a task with the best of intentions but feel the need to check our phones every five minutes and the next thing you know, end of term research becomes checking out the latest Twitter beef. This then becomes the mad rush to cram everything into a smaller time frame than is comfortable.
Mindfulness would have us be aware of that, of all the possible sidetracks and delays and prepare for them. Turning off phones or setting them to silent is a great start. Finding a comfortable work space is another. There are those of us who like music on in the background and find it helps us work. Whatever helps the flow of work is to be considered a good thing dependent on the job at hand. The main thing to keep in mind is to keep the work in mind. Out of all of those thoughts we can only consciously focus on one at a time. Women are known to be able to multi-task at a far greater rate than men but that skill is an expansion of mindfulness. Driving takes several mental and physical actions to achieve but they are all working towards the one goal of reaching a destination safely. We cannot worry over the past or be over anxious about the future, we should be concerned with right now.
Be aware of each moment and what it is you are doing, during and after. Make a plan to take breaks but also be as precise for when break time ends. Nutrition is also very important so do look into which foods work best with you. Staying hydrated is also a brilliant way of keeping the brain lubricated. Being mindful doesnâ€™t have to be as deep as all of those meditation tapes suggest. It can be as simple as concentrating on washing your face and making sure your skin care regime is up to par. A consciously aware mind set can change even the crappiest day into a series of learning tools. Perspective changes the universe so even if we are running behind on a task we know what we will do to rectify it and not worry over the spilled milk. Even reading these few words without being distracted is the start to more prosperous and mindful existence.
10 1 0 B O O KS E V E RY WO M A N SHOULD READ A common desire amongst people is they wish they could read more, but what should you be reading? I’m going to make a suggestion of 10 books that I think will be a benefit to any woman.
1. Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandberg made headlines around the world by becoming the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. While I hope for the day when a woman becoming head of a company is not national news and is just a fact we take for granted, we might not have been blessed with her TED talk and book “Lean In”. Both deal with the fact that many women suffer from “Imposter Syndrome”, a debilitating belief that our success is based on luck rather than our talent, and that we are inferior. The book also discusses how women are wondering about their careers and how it will line up with their families desires, taking positions beneath them so that they can be a good mum. Sandberg argues that women should be striving harder and faster in their careers so that when they have children they have a career they love and are passionate about because that will be the only reason returning to work will be worth it after children. Read It If: You are wondering where to go next in your career. 2. The Art of Asking - Amanda Palmer I consider this a companion piece to “Lean In” because Amanda Palmer also talks about “Imposter Syndrome”(but calls it by a title I prefer which is the “Fraud Police”). This book is about how people are afraid to ask. They’re afraid to ask people for help because they’ll look weak, or cheap, or tacky, and this book shows the benefits of letting people help you. In the book, Palmer covers how she asked her husband (Author Neil Gaiman) for help when she had to pull out of a tour to care for her dying friend. She asks girls in bathrooms for spare tampons when she’s run out. She borrows cigarettes. She has toured over the world by asking for help in borrowing equipment, sourcing support bands and venues. She has stayed on people’s couches by asking. And when her beloved Ukulele was stolen she asked on twitter for the people to give it back. They did. Read It If: You want to be a leader. You can’t be a leader if you don’t ask for help, either in delegating tasks or progressing.
TNF MAG 3. How to be a Woman - Caitlin Moran I’m sure everyone reading this has a copy of this book. It’s the “Female Eunuch” of our times. You might wonder what I can possibly say that is new about the book. The fact is this book is important because we need someone who isn’t afraid to talk about periods, masturbation, porn, abortions, strip clubs and the idiocy of big weddings, high heels and Brazilians. We need someone to point out that feminism isn’t about hating men, but is about caring and supporting and defending those who need your help. Read It If: You need a kick up the backside, or just want to feel “normal.” 4. Everyday Sexism - Laura Bates This is the book to accompany the website of the same name, and encounters many different aspects of sexism, such as sexual assault, racism, social life and work and education. This book will leave you a little depressed over what the majority of women have suffered, which is a good thing, because it might make you challenge it when it happens to you. Read it if: You have endured some sexist “banter.” 5. The Vagenda - Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett Subtitled “A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media” this book (also from a website of the same name) was founded by several journalists after they became frustrated by women’s magazines, famously Grazia taglining the film “The Iron Lady” as being “Like King Lear, but for girls.” You don’t have to put up with magazines printing one picture of a celebrity as “fat” one week and “anorexic” the next. This book will guide you. Read It If: You can’t stand the media’s portrayal of women. 6. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell Criticise it for its length or for its depiction of the American Civil War, or the ending, you can’t deny that Scarlett O’Hara is one of the greatest female character’s ever written. She is flawed, selfish and cruel. But she is also strong, brave, and loves people dearly when she lets herself. She doesn’t let any man rule her and despises a fool. Plus she’s resourceful, making a pulling dress out of some curtains. Read It If: You despair over female characters in books and films. 7. Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber Just about every girl’s room I’ve ever been in has a copy of this book. I once found a copy in my friend’s bathroom. Re-interpreting classic tales and adding a few of her own, this is a glorious mix of tales, seduction, danger and passion. Read It If: You can’t stand “Fifty Shades of Grey”
8. The Equality Illusion - Kat Banyard Kat Banyard is a member of UK Feminista and this book is about how although we’ve taken great strides to ensure there is equality for females, there is a still long way to go. Drawing on research and her own experience, this is a much loved book and Banyard was called “the most influential young feminist in the country” by the Guardian. This book is the reason why. Read It If: You’ve just discovered your male co-worker earns more than you
9. Ain’t I A Woman - Bell Hooks This sadly out of print book is a side of the story we don’t usually hear, and if we do it’s usually as an afterthought. This book details the black feminism movement and how initially there wasn’t one because black women felt their issue was racism and once equality was established amongst the races, then equality for women would follow. But it didn’t. In fact things were worse for black women because they were deemed to be immoral and promiscuous. The suffragette movement aligned themselves with black men’s fight for the right to vote, but not with black women. Black maids were sexually assaulted by their employers, and anti slavery causes would say that black women were being forced into “prostitution” rather than they were being assaulted and this was damaging because it furthered people’s ignorant belief that black women were immoral. A challenging yet wonderful read. Read It If: You want to hear another side of the story.
10. Girls to the front - Sara Marcus This book is about the Riot Grrrl movement, but you don’t have to be a fan of Bikini Kill and the like to appreciate this account of a D.I.Y feminist movement that sprung up around the world and inspired women everywhere to protest and create their own literature. There are some serious criticisms that should be taken into account; many lesbians formed their own groups because they found the official groups to be too “straight”. Black Women also formed their own groups because they felt alienated by the white middle class girls who populated most groups. This is why it’s an important read, because not every female found equality amongst other women. Read It If: You like music as much as you like feminism.
P O E M : F A M I LY KIM FARRELL
Lay the foundation Tell me all of your wisdom Save some until I am older Put on my coat and warn me of the cold Help me with my laces Wrap me up in your love Show me to the door Make sure I open it Make sure I walk through it Don’t do it for me Teach me, don’t lead me Show me, don’t tell me Let all of my life be my own Wrapped up in your manual of life I will struggle, I will plead for help Don’t be tough but teach me strength Watch me dust myself off
Watch me make myself Be proud when I succeed As You know I will For you are my foundation You made the base and I created the pattern Each day I mould my life into my own shapes I let people in and push people out and it is all my own doing My life is my way My decisions come from my heart No one can ever tell me For to try will push me and to push me is to lose me Respect is higher than any comparable height The love continues to grow You are my everything And I wrote this out to just let you know 17
11 60 SECONDS WITH: SUSY OLUDELE
INTERVIEW BY SELINA BROWN
Susy “AfricanCreature” Oludele, is a Celebrity Hair Stylist hailing from Bronx New York. A purple queen is full of phenomenal talent, working with the likes of Beyonce and Solange Knowles, Keri Hilson and Zoe Kravitz. This quirky fashionista is killing the hair scene right now, we caught up with her to get a little insight into Susy’s world.
Please share a little bit about yourself: Introduction, where you are from, what you are currently doing…? My name is Susy Africancreature and I’m a Hair Artist from the Bronx. I grew up with a Nigerian background. I love everything about hair and I also own a vintage store called Susyscloset. My favorite food is peanut butter & jelly and Jollof rice but not together. Hahaha. I love creating and expressing my art with people. Right now I’m a superhero What are you trying to achieve as a hairstylist, if anything at all? I just want to do my best to inspire and making peoples hair look good makes me happy. How did you grow up. What was your childhood like? I had really good times & I had really bad times. I grew up with strict Nigerian parents and I was always teased and bullied in school. But I lived a good life because I’m blessed to have a strong mother and father. Even though we didn’t have much my parents made sure we were always good & had food to eat. We didn’t grow up in a safe neighborhood so we couldn’t really come outside. I was always bullied until I got to high school in my junior year. It all changed We all have difficulties we have to overcome, such as finances and relationships, what has been most difficult for you and how did you overcome this? I used to have a problem with not finishing what I started. I would start something and never follow through with it later on I had other interests. Other agendas. I had to really write everything down, meditate and really stay focus. I don’t watch t.v, everything I do is towards my dreams. What do you think your secret is as a hair stylist? 2weapon 0
What do you think that “thing” is that makes you stand out? Honestly I just be myself, I don’t try to be anything I’m not. I want people to get away from their everyday life and come into a happy place when they get their hair done. What are your top 5 social media tips? 1. Keep your personal life off social media. 1. Follow pages, blogs that inspire you that way even on social media you are still getting inspiration. 2. Share content at certain times. Depending on the day and time you’ll get a better response when you post content for your audience. 3. Create a content strategy marketing plan 4. Build relationships on social media. Do you feel like you’re more satisfied with your work if it’s something that you feel you’ve created from scratch, or if it’s influenced by something that you love? With anything I do I put my heart into it. If it’s created from scratch of course it’s more organic and official. I get influence from everything around me. There’s so much inspiration everywhere. Are there any tips you can share with young women who would like a career that is as varied/creative as yours? Work hard and work smart. Everyday work towards your craft. Hard work pays off but the grind and the dreams don’t stop even when you are winning. Most of us have role models we look up to; who inspires you? My mother definitely, I owe her a planet. She’s the best thing that ever came into my life.
SUSY’S HAIR ART
12 A R E YO U T RY I N G T O H AV E I T A L L ? YASMIN BATHAMANATHAN remains universal. I N T H E M O S T E P I C W AY POSSIBLE, MY SPIRIT ANIMAL AND LIFESTYLE GURU, MS LESLIE K N O P E O F PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N TA C K L E D ONE OF THE MOST I N S U LT I N G Q U E S T I O N S H U R L E D AT W O M E N A L L THE TIME. “ T H AT Q U E S T I O N MAKES NO SENSE. IT’S A STUPID QUESTION. S T O P A S K I N G I T. D O N ’ T ASK IT,” SAID MS KNOPE, IN THE PIEMARY EPISODE. In that episode, Parks and Recreation tackled various forms of sexism women face on a daily basis. The portrayal of women in the media especially wives of politicians; the pressures working mothers face; and of course, whether women can “have it all” were some of them. While the comedy series is set in small town USA, the theme of this episode resonated with women across the world for even though the cultures may differ, sexism
What does “having it all mean” even mean? In the broad sense of the term, it denotes “career + family”. The “family” here is still seen through the conventional heteronormative lens – a husband, 2.5 children, house, pets, etc. It stems from the societal belief that a woman is not complete without becoming a Mother. So pervasive is the myth of having it all that many think pieces have been written on the topic in the past decade or so, especially with the rise of corporate feminism within the capitalist framework. Just a couple of weeks after the aforementioned Parks and Recreation episode aired, I was having brunch with my BFFs from secondary school. Looking at the three of us, I was reminded of the brilliant manner in which the sitcom had dealt with the “having it all” offense. Sitting across from me was C, a double master’s degrees holder from Glasgow University, who has made UK her home postgraduation. C’s visa and working permit were not renewed despite her and her mother
having recently purchased a house in the UK, so she will be going back as a visitor. C is not yet married, and for all her achievements in academia, what she really wants to do is making a name for herself in photography. Next to me was S – a lecturer at a local public university and a married mother of two. She too is a masters degree holder, albeit one from a Malaysian University unlike our friend C. Currently on a paid two-year medical from work due to cancer, S was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a mere two months after delivering her second baby. She has the enviable job security that enabled her to take off two whole years to fight cancer with full pay and her position vacant until she reports back to work in this June. Then you have me. A college dropout who lost her scholarship to continue with her undergraduate studies in the US after her grades plunged as a result of a long battle with clinical depression. I came back to Malaysia, had to begin from scratch, working my way up to
Time has taken us - three Malaysian Indian girls from a small town in Penang – on our own paths. We write our own narratives as we move from one spot to another, with no regard of bowing to societal pressures. The expected path for us was university, grad school, job, marriage and children, all in that particular order. No love before graduation; children after marriage. Now that we are past the third decade mark of our lives, raising a family should be the only priority. Deep down, though, we each want different things. For S, motherhood brings her the greatest joy whereas both C and I do not plan on having children.
This will surely crush our Mothers should they realise how earnest we are in not wanting children. However, within our group of three, each person’s choice is valid and not frowned upon. All three of us, I must say, are quite good at doing what we are passionate about. S is a loving and caring mother just as she is as a friend and teacher. C takes incredible pictures, some that have even made the BBC’s website! As for me, well, I’ve had my articles published in various publications, plays produced and poetry read at local arts festivals. Clearly, “having it all” for each of us means something different, bearing no similarities to what the larger world thinks of it. To C, having it all may be the freedom to lead her life in her chosen home of the UK while to S, it might be raising her two children, being cancer-free and continue teaching in the university. For me, it means finishing my undergraduate studies so I can apply for grad school while continuing to write professionally. “Having it all” is reductive,
insulting and retrogressive. It reduces all women to twodimensional caricatures, without any complexity or even their own backstory. It operates on the assumption that all women are in need and pursuit of the same goals, that their lives are identical. It negates each woman’s individual and unique lived reality while painting them in the same strokes from the same paint and brush. It perpetuates the gender stereotyping that all women want to be mothers. In other words, “having it all” is patriarchy’s way of shaming women for their life choices. Also, are we asking men that? If no, then perhaps it is time to stop asking women “are you trying to have it all?” Next time someone asks you, or you are tempted to ask a woman “Are you trying to have it all?” remember Leslie Knope looking at you with her judgiest of faces and saying “That question makes no sense. It’s a stupid question. Stop asking it. Don’t ask it.”
BE HAPPY HAVE A FREE SPIRIT
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: ZULEKHA LAKECA
Artwork: Luci Gutierrez
where I am today despite not having the paper qualifications that would set most people, let alone a woman, in Malaysia back. In the midst of it all, I got married, enrolled in an online distance-learning course and am working towards that prized undergraduate degree.
MY PASSION FOR CULTURE, COLOUR, AND EMOTION FUEL MY WORK. I FEEL THAT LIFE SHOULD BE CELEBRATED, AND THAT ALL REALITIES OF LIVING SHOULD BE CAPTURED AND EXPRESSED AUTHENTICALLY.
PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: RUPI KAINTH Rupi Kainth is a female photographer, interior designer, graphic designer, and home b u i l d e r. S h e i s a s e r i a l entrepreneur with big vision. This single mom loves to create, and sees beauty in all things. Rupi discovered she was a shutterbug in her early teen years when she picked up her f a t h e r â€™ s d u s t y C a n o n T5 0 . E v e r since, she has been exploring the art of photography, a process t h a t c o n t i n u e s t o t h i s d a y. S h e welcomes challenging new experiences, and loves shooting weddings of all cultures, but has repeatedly shown her talents photographing East Indian weddings. With her quirky sense of humour she enjoys meeting new people, facing new challenges, and creating fun photographic experiences for people. For Rupi, photography is not just about taking pictures, it is about a passion for people; a love of colour, a sense of place, a moment in time.
14 TOXIC BEAUTY ELEANOR BUCHANAN LANGUAGE IS A FUNNY THING. W H E N I WA S YO U N G , I U S E D T O T H I N K T H AT I T W A S O K AY T O U S E T H E W O R D ‘ G AY ’ A S A N I N S U LT . T H E E X C U S E S I G AV E M YS E L F W E R E T H I N G S L I K E ‘ M Y G AY FRIENDS DON’T MIND’ A N D ‘ E V E RYO N E K N OWS IT JUST HAS ANOTHER MEANING, I DON’T A C T U A L LY M E A N G AY G AY.’ It took me a while to realise the impact of what I was doing. By using the word ‘gay’ to mean a negative thing, I was projecting into the world the idea that being gay is a negative thing. When I finally realised this, I stopped. But it took me a while to get out of the habit. I had to watch myself, monitor myself, and continuously remind myself that it was not ok. I had to do this myself because, if I’m honest, no one else was doing that for me. A lot of my peers at the time didn’t seem to see the problem. But I kept at it, and years later, I am glad to say that that habit is well and truly buried. Now, there is another word that has come to my attention. A very different word used in a very different way, but doing perhaps just as much damage. And that word is beautiful. Beauty is something that women and girls all over the world aspire to be. Unfortunately, this
aspiration has led to some worrying extremes: thousands of girls down the path of eating disorders and extreme surgery in order to attain society’s standards of what is beautiful. And yet, despite all this effort, pain, distress, only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. This is according to a survey lead by Dove as part of their Self Esteem Project. They also state that anxiety about appearance begins at an early age. I can certainly believe that. Dove’s Self Esteem Project aims to “help the next generation of women develop a positive relationship with the way they look - helping them raise their self-esteem and realise their full potential. The project delivers self-esteem education to young people (primarily girls) aged 8-17 years through lessons in schools, workshops for youth groups, and online resources for parents.” They aim to reach “more than 15 million young people with selfesteem education by the end of 2015.” So the idea is to raise young girl’s self-esteem by helping them to become more body confident. This entire project has grown out of Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’
Campaign – which aimed to “widen the definition of beauty” and show women that they don’t have to fit to the unrealistic standards of beauty splashed across our media. Dove wanted to make all women feel beautiful. Now, in a world so dominated by images of unattainable standards of beauty, I whole heartedly applaud campaigns that are trying to encourage women and girls to embrace and love their bodies as they are. But there are many things about this Dove campaign that unsettle me. First of all – the sheer irony of a company that is a part of the beauty industry, an industry which profits and thrives on the insecurities of women and girls, making this statement and using it to market its products is enough to send your head spinning. Second of all – why should we have to feel beautiful in order to realise our “full potential” as people? Why is it so important for all women to feel beautiful? Why must beauty and woman be synonymous?
better,” If we are continuously using the word ‘beautiful’ to validate each other and make each other feel worthy, then we are instilling in each other that beauty is the most important quality we can possess. That it is our job, as women: To be beautiful.
I CAN’T COUNT THE NUMBER OF TIMES I H AV E C O M F O R T E D A FEMALE FRIEND WITH LOW SELF-ESTEEM B Y S AY I N G ‘ Y O U ’ R E S O B E A U T I F U L’ A S I F THESE MAGIC WORDS WILL MAKE HER FEEL BETTER, AND T H E S A D D E S T PA R T ? OFTEN, IT IS. I COULD T E L L T H AT G I R L H O W INTELLIGENT, FUNNY, C H A R M I N G , A N D L O V E LY SHE IS TILL I’M BLUE IN T H E FA C E , B U T N O N E O F THOSE WORDS QUITE H AV E T H E S A M E VA LU E A S ‘ B E A U T I F U L’. T H A T ’ S T H E W O R D T H AT W I L L T R U LY V A L I D A T E H E R AND MAKE HER FEEL W O R T H Y. W H Y ? Because from the minute we can put on a dress, we are taught 30
that to be beautiful is the single most important thing we can achieve. As women, our looks are constantly being judged and evaluated, no matter what field we are in. There is an enormous pressure put upon us to be beautiful. This is why the UK beauty industry is worth a staggering £17 billion. And yes, a lot of that pressure is coming at us full force from the media that surrounds us all day long. From the obviously sinister magazine covers sporting women photo shopped beyond recognisability, to things like Dove, which seems better because instead of a pressure to LOOK beautiful it’s a pressure to FEEL beautiful (but either way, you need to buy their products to do so) But the scariest part is: we are putting that pressure on ourselves and on each other. And we don’t even know it. From “oh she’s such a pretty girl’ to “forget him, you’re so beautiful, you’ll find someone
“But it’s a compliment!” Yes! Absolutely! This feels so different from the ‘that’s so gay’ issue. What can be wrong with telling a girl she is beautiful, especially if you know that’s what she wants to hear? Well, sometimes what we want and what we need are two different things. We currently live in a world where Dove has had to launch a massive campaign to try and make 15 million girls feel better about their selves by improving their body confidence. I think it’s about time we work towards creating a world in which we don’t NEED to reassure every female on the planet that she is beautiful, just so that she can feel as though she has worth. To create this world, there are countless battles to be won and huge parts of our society that need to undergo a radical change. Achieving this is such a massive task that it can often feel completely out of my hands. So, what can I do as an individual to help us get there? Well, as a start, I am going to change the way I use the word ‘beautiful.’ I don’t want to use it as a validation any more. I don’t want to give in to the idea that being beautiful is the number one priority. I want to save that word for when I really mean it. When I look at someone, and am filled with delight at what I see, and am so overcome with it that I just have to share with that person: ‘You are beautiful.’ When it’s not about validating that person, or trying to make them feel good, but it’s about letting them in to the way you see the world. That is what I want the word ‘beautiful’ to be. And for those moments, I am casting the word aside. I encourage you to do the same.
50 SHADES OF CONTROVERSY LAURA JONES
NOW I AM SURE THE MAJORITY, IF NOT ALL O F YO U H AV E H E A R D O F A C E R TA I N N O V E L A N D N O W H I G H LY GROSSING FILM NAMED ’ 5 0 S H A D E S O F G R E Y ’. THIS IS A TRILOGY OF BOOKS ABOUT A GIRL WHO ENTERS A BDSM (BONDAGE & DISCIPLINE/DOMINANCE & SUBMISSION/SADOMASOCHISM) SEXUAL R E L AT I O N S H I P W I T H A POWERFUL BILLIONAIRE. More than 100 million, mostlyfemale readers have read this and have seen or are waiting to see the new screen adaptation of E.L. James’s bestselling book. Despite the overall excitement, it has been apparent recently that not everyone is supporting its success. This largely read/watched story has advocates whose plans are to boycott and highlight the flaws of its ‘underlying message.’ There are several groups and domestic violence campaigns which agree and support this movement. They feel it is not a story of a rare romance but a story of abuse and violence of women. Rather than focussing on the subtle concept of romance in their relationship they see the main theme of ‘control and dominance’ resulting in their views that it is highlighting
rape. The running themes in their minds are coercion, manipulation and abuse. There is a hashtag which is trending on social media, “50 Dollas Not 50 Shades.” This is to encourage people not to see the movie and donate the money which they would have spent on a ticket to a local women’s shelter. But let’s be honest, I know ticket prices are forever increasing and I’m praying that we never have to spend that much on one ticket. Although, it is a catchy hashtag, I’ll congratulate them on that one! I am a fan of the 50 Shades trilogy. Some people say it is badly written, I say it’s a great story but we are all entitled to our own opinions aren’t we? If you look past all the sex, you find a wonderful love story which intrigued me and I’m sure, many others. Some of the people who are against the release of the film to cinemas must not have read the books. I have read all three books alongside millions of other females and some males, and I can speak for many other readers that I do not sense the glorifying of rape in these books and am in no way offended. If it had indeed portrayed this message, I am sure it would not be a best seller and highly anticipated film. Some people are acting like E.L. James had created this whole new world of sex which didn’t exist prior to the books. Reading the book, you would see that the woman had chosen to enter into the
sexual relationship, she signed a consent form and was told that she could leave at any time. She had code words to use if she wanted to stop. The woman was given as much as control as she needed, does this scream ‘rape’ to you? DOMINANT/SUBMISSIVE RELATIONSHIPS MAY SEEM LIKE A FANTASY BUT THERE ARE HAPPILY MARRIED COUPLES WHICH PARTAKE IN THESE ACTIVITIES. JUST BECAUSE IT IS NOT DISCUSSED ON A REGULAR BASIS DOESN’T MEAN IT DOES NOT HAPPEN. I feel these people who are against 50 Shades of Grey are highlighting the ongoing problem our world has with sexism. If the tables turned and the female was the dominatrix and the male was submissive, do you think there would be uproar? There are female dominatrix’s in this world yet it isn’t highlighted because people do not feel there is anything wrong with it. Yet it is a whole new story once it is about the man. I strongly disagree. It is like saying its ok for a woman to hit a man but it isn’t ok for a man to hit a woman. You get many Feminists who fight for equality and so they should treat every other situation with the same mentality. I get the feeling that some people need to find a flaw in everything, just to create a media buzz.
N AT U R A L N O M I C S 101: BACK TO BASICS LESLIE WALTON
When I decided to go natural more than three years ago, it was for the health of my scalp and hair (with the help of a dermatologist, I found out I had an actual scalp disorder), so I didn’t have the luxury of doing something because everyone else seemed to be doing it too, but then again, I’ve never done that. With the increase of step by step tutorials, YouTube videos, and home-bloggers actually getting paid for their
opinions and appearances, consumers have to do more than just consume products. Buying natural now requires the well-hewn ability to decipher and read between the lines, or at least read the top ingredients listed. This is what I like to call Naturalnomics 101. What exactly is Naturalnomics? It is the knowledge obtained after countless hours of researching articles, blogs, reviews, trendy photos, old photos, side-byside comparisons, differences between extracts and oils, social media posts, big chop vs. transitioning, the top 5 ingredients, scientific facts and personal opinions ( just to name a few) about everything that goes with taking care of natural hair. Long story short, it is cramming so much information about being natural inside of your head that you essentially need to go back to just the basics and start this whole process over again but with fewer products. Becoming a student of Naturalnomics will have bathroom chemists adding avocados, coconut milk, bananas, silk amino acids, yogurts, flax seeds, baking soda, hemp, and oils from animals you have never seen called emus to a hair potion, only to find out that what their hair really wants is the same lard grandmamma was using back in the day before we got addicted to chemicals. So much for research, huh. Being natural can be a task if obsessed over. Being natural can also be a blessing once it’s figured out. But along the way, it is important to learn the only rule that counts: Do what works for you!
Photo: Dexter R. Jones
T H E H O M E B AT H R O O M H A S G R A D U A L LY BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO A MAKE-SHIFT KITCHEN, LITTERED WITH CONCOCTIONS AND POTIONS, ALL WA I T I N G T O B E T E S T E D AND APPROVED FOR U S E O N AWA I T I N G HEADS TOPPED WITH I N C R E A S I N G LY C U R LY , C O I LY O R K I N K Y C R O W N S O F G L O R Y. FROM BUTTERS TO OILS TO CREAM
s to DIY conditioners, more and more often we are seeing “triple threat” products, called so because they can be used on the hair, on the skin, and go into the mouth to be eaten… And all can be bought in one trip to the grocery store. Noticing this shift from processed and permed to curly and kinky has hair product companies jumping to join this bandwagon and now consumers are being flooded with a tidal wave of naturalness. So, now comes the hard part: actually figuring out which products work and actually offer what is advertised.
17 GRACIE FRANCESCA UPLIFTING THE INTERNET
INTERVIEW BY EMMA HALE
24 year old Gracie Francesca is setting the internet alight, this fashion and beauty blogger from London uses her positive spirit to uplift her 180,000+ subscribers, making her one of the most popular vloggers in the UK. Gracie is a true guide of inspiration with her raw honesty, so why not get to know Gracie that little bit better..
Please share a little bit about yourself: Introduction, where you are from, what you are currently doing? So I’m originally from Buckinghamshire, a place called High Wycombe, but I’ve recently moved to South West London. I’m a full time fashion/beauty blogger and youtuber. I also raise awareness for mental health. How did you start as a beauty and fashion blogger? What would you like to achieve from this? I was just bored and needed a creative outlet, so I started. I used to watch a few people and realised there was nobody like me on there so I thought there was a place for me. I just want to be able to give back to people less fortunate than me. We all have difficulties we have to overcome, what has been most difficult for you and how did you overcome this?
For me it was my depression & self harm. I really hated myself and I struggled a lot with my body image. I had therapy for 6 months back in 2012. which was the hardest thing to do in my life, but it was also the best. I just didn’t give up. What do you think your secret weapon is as a beauty and fashion blogger? Being relatable and talking about ‘taboo’ subjects which a lot of people are going through. What do you think that “thing” is that makes you stand out? That I’m not scared to be myself. What are your top 5 social media tips? Consistency, decent content, reliability, realness & to remain humble. Do you feel like you’re more satisfied with your work if it’s something that you feel you’ve created from scratch, or if it’s influenced by something that
you love? I am my own worst enemy and I’m so hard on myself to try and create original content and the best content but it’s not about that. It’s about doing what you love, reaching out to people and having fun. I make notes, plan my videos and posts and try to make my content ‘me’. A lot of us are led to believe that a 9 – 5 job is the only way to make a steady income, how have you maintained yourself with such varied sources of income? I used to work 9-5 so I know what it’s like to be stuck in a job you don’t want to be in. The world is changing and there are so many more creative ways to make money. I am so blessed that things worked out for me but I will never forget where I came from. I’m pretty business minded now and I also have a network, a management team and an accountant. 35
JUST TRUST YOUR JOURNEY AND REMEMBER T H AT W I T H EVERY LOW, COMES AN EVEN BETTER HIGH.
Are there any tips you can share with young women who would like a career that is as creative as yours? DO IT! Believe in yourself and work hard. Don’t let the world or other people make you feel like you can’t achieve your goals. It’s never too late. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. Most of us have role models we look up to; who inspires you? Demi Lovato & Jennifer Lawrence. They are both 38
beautiful, strong women.
knowing what you know now?
How did you develop your confident attitude? What was the turning point?
You’ll get there. Just trust your journey and remember that with every low, comes an even better high. Prepare yourself girl.
I guess I was just sick of being unhappy - it was draining. I’ve always had some sort of confidence though, I think I’ve had to due to domestic violence in my family home. I had to grow up fast and have a voice. Do you have any advice you would like to give your younger self if you had the opportunity,
What are your wishes for the next generation of female leaders? I wish for a world where females were happy with who they were and society accepted them for who and what they are.
THIS IS A RESPONSE TO ARMIE HAMMER’S EMBARRASSING A R T I C L E I N P L AY B O Y , WHERE HE MENTIONS H I S R E L U C TA N C E T O P U L L H I S F E M I N I S TWIFE’S HAIR. “Feminist” has a bad rap and I’d like to change your mind. I consider myself a feminist. I drink beer. I watch hockey. I’d rather hang out with guys than girls. I write more about male than female protagonists (so sue me). I also swear, watch Vince Vaughn comedies, and have (gasp!) watched porn before. I also have a boyfriend whom I consider to be (another gasp!) an “Alpha male”, and he’s spectacular. (I let him drive and navigate, too.) Despite all these things, I still want men and women to be treated the same. As a feminist, all I ask is for women to be able to walk downtown, in a sun dress, without being catcalled or gawked at. All I ask is for us to be seen as businesswomen instead of bitches (although, I secretly
love that word). All I ask is for the majority of this world to look at the male and female gender, side-by-side, and recognize both their strengths and differences, equally. Guys, just because I am a feminist doesn’t mean I want cut your dick off. It doesn’t mean I want to get your job and have you lie in the gutter, homeless. It DOES mean I want to work with you, as an equal, and be respected in my position (even if my shaved legs look hot in that pencil skirt). It DOES mean I want to wear whatever I please without a stranger grabbing my ass (certain female body parts need to breathe, just like your balls, but no one seems to be grabbing them in public except yourself). It means I want men, as half the population, to STAND UP FOR THAT GIRL who got raped at a party, instead of saying she deserved it. Have our backs if you want us to love your (hairy) backs in return. Basically, as a feminist, I want men to chill the fuck out and act like men. Don’t roll your eyes when we want to contribute
to a women’s rights fundraiser. Support the shit out of us and how far we’ve come, despite our gender secretly hating any other attractive girl (ladies, this needs to stop). Provide for us, but don’t let your ego deflate if we make more money than you. Just because a woman has a higher income doesn’t mean she will sprout a beard and bench press you. She still wants to take care of you. She still wants to nurture you while decorating her house in Anthropologie and having only one baby (we also want to keep our figures so we can still enjoy sex with you!). As a feminist, we don’t want men to die. We want to be appreciated the same way you would appreciate your male friends and mentors. We want our hair pulled, our butts spanked, and our souls treated considerately. Men, instead of “hating” strong women, smile at them. Take them out to dinner. Feminists know what they want and can contribute an incredible amount to help the male gender discover the secrets of the universe. We’re an ally you want to have. Don’t shun us.
CLAIRE MACALLISTER I’VE BEEN SECRETIVE TO OTHER PEOPLE SINCE I WA S A K I D . E V E RYO N E E X C E P T F O R M Y F A M I LY. T H AT WA S C H A R M I N G O N A C E R TA I N A M O U N T O F LEVELS, BUT FOR QUITE A LARGE PORTION OF T H E T I M E , E V E RYO N E J U S T T H O U G H T I WA S A MURDERER. ’ve always wanted to keep secrets, have secrets, and, at least, attempt to exude a sense of mystery around others. Secrets make other people more interesting, and their secrets make me more interested. I can keep a secret from anybody. Anybody except my daughter. I can’t resist telling her everything. Everything I know and think to be true about the world, about religion, about the people I can’t stand and the animals I love. There are so many secrets that I tell her, so many facts. So many pieces of knowledge that I want to secure as important in my own mind, a confirmation that the bruises I gained and acquaintances I lost from those experiences were worth it. I know this is the 40
point where selfishness and enthusiasm collide. Everything I tell her, I tell her late at night. Swaddled in linen, there is more sweat on my back than stories in my head. I can almost feel the alcohol swimming in my blood – 6 G & T’s and condensation on the windows. There is pressure on my belly where I can sense her. In that moment, everything is simply her. And I tell her everything. I tell her to kiss boys on whatever number date she likes. Kiss him before the movie even starts if that’s what makes her happy. I think I hear a sound of disgust at kissing a boy. I tell her to wear her watch on her right arm instead of her left. Who the fuck cares if you have to take it off to change the battery? In all its irony, it’s an extra minute being made more aware of the dearness and fleetingness of time. I tell her to forget any expectations that are placed on her to experience the world by the time she turns 24. She doesn’t need to have backpacked for a year around Asia to morph into a better type
of human. The world can wait for her. It seems like she can’t return the favour. I ask her to disregard her bedtime, no matter what her mother says. If she wants to play until midnight, or make her blankets into a fort to protect her from the monster under her bed (and the monsters in my head), then I won’t try to stop her. I tell her that, when she’s older, it’s not a crime to watch porn. I know she’s a child, but she should never be ashamed of her own sexuality. I silently wish for her to know not to try to emulate those women. She has no idea what I mean when I explain the word ‘feminist’. I tell her to cry at funerals, if she wants, and dance at weddings, if she wants. She doesn’t have to like everything I want her to, but I do want her to realise the importance of liking things in the first place. It’s cool to like stuff. It’s hip. If I’m lucky, this is making her more embarrassed than anything. I make her promise to not care about turning 19. 19 is not a bad age. It’s an age where you’re wiser than 18, stupider than 20, and nobody besides you gives a
fuck. I also make her promise not to tell Daddy how much Mummy swears. I tell her that being exhausted sometimes doesn’t go away. You need to exist, just for a moment, with nothing to think about. I tell her that life is wearying and that is why it’s worth the trouble. Her hands are too small to catch the stars should they fall on her. But they will grow and I will be the one to knit new gloves every time.
I also tell her that being melancholy, however, is not the answer to everything. I tell her to make cookies when it’s boiling hot, and go swimming when it’s raining. I tell her to buy books and borrow books and steal books if she has to. I hope this doesn’t make me a bad mother.
I tell her not to worry about her body, even though she will. She’s here to change the world, not to care about how big her thighs
I tell her to experience her life as it is happening, rather than filing away memories before the next round has been ordered. However, I do advocate for keeping a diary. Is that contradictory? I don’t know. I don’t know how to tell my daughter how to live the right way, how to have the right love or the right diet or the right house. Telling her all of that is conflicting. There is no right way to live and she will learn that. I won’t be the one to tell her, though, because I sure as fuck don’t know it. I tell her to eat jelly snakes for dinner, and not to drink tea if she doesn’t like it. I tell her to have lots of pets, and in my wiser moments, to never have any pets if she wants to leave the house and never feel guilty. Although, scientists have told me that guilt is hereditary, so there’s no chance of her avoiding it now. I tell her to go to art galleries and the cinema on her own. I tell her to hold hands with her Dad until she’s a teenager, only because I
I tell her she should never compare her handwriting to the handwriting of other people. But I never tell her that she can be an astronaut or a firewoman, because if I do, then she’ll realise for the first time that there was a possibility that somebody else could take her place. I would have made her an exception. I would have made her a joke with a punch line that everybody but her knows.
say that she can’t do something than otherwise. I know she can, and perhaps she will, but if she feels it in her gut, in that moment, then she can let it be and never turn back. Defeat is overwhelming but selfpreservation is necessary. I tell her to have role models. The term ‘role model’ is lost on her. I begin to realise that I believe I’m a better person than I actually am. I tell her to write lists and to disregard lists. I tell her to explore any type of religion she chooses, except Buddhism, because Buddhism is the worst excuse for a religious practice that I have ever witnessed. I tell her to almost never listen to me. I tell her to dislike people, but never to hate them. Everybody’s lonesome. We deserve to choose our battles, not to be drowned underneath them before we even have the chance. I tell her that she has a right to love whoever she pleases, for as long as she wants and as wildly as she wants. She’s young. She doesn’t quite understand. It’s difficult to understand the things that we don’t really want to happen.
are. I tell her that there are worse things in this world than being fat. I tell her to do everything I could never do. I tell her to have dreams, dreams that break her and dreams that don’t have that power. I tell her to indulge her fantasies, because if she can’t do that, then nobody can. I tell her to stay in her pyjamas all day and to decorate at least one room herself, and to never be ashamed of how her family celebrates Christmas, and to wear hats in winter (although never sunglasses indoors). I tell her that it is braver of her to
Mostly, I tell her that she will be the good in me. She will be the good in me, until my days are slow and stifling, and until my heart is deteriorating, and until I cannot bear to look in the mirror because I won’t recognise the person looking back. I wish my mother had had the life within her to tell me all of this. And I wish my daughter had held onto her life for long enough so I could tell her too. And that’s a secret I’ve only ever told once. Here.
PA N I C I ’ M 3 0 !
NICKI KELLY 00:01. 22ND FEBRUARY 2 0 1 5 . O H N O , I WA S PLANNING TO DO A NEW YEAR’S EVE STYLE COUNTDOWN TO BRING I N M Y 3 0 T H B I R T H D AY. I F O N LY I C O U L D T U R N BACK TIME... Over the last month I have been reflecting; feeling happy, feeling sad, feeling like I haven’t achieved anything and feeling like I’ve achieved so much. I should be settled. Married. Have a successful career, a mortgage and 2.4 children. I always wondered what 2.4 children look like? I imagine it would be a son, a daughter and just a head that I’d carry under my arm. In reality I’ve been single since birth (or so it feels), not sure if I ever want to get married, I don’t want kids and I’m renting. What 42
kind of 30 year old am I? And more importantly, why am I not Beyoncé? A couple of months ago I was a happy and content 29 year old, what’s changed? During the run up to the big 3-0 I had a few mini breakdowns about hitting this milestone without all the “stuff” I should have, according to society. I started to panic and decided to get all the “stuff”.
offer, maybe even buy one, get one free. That way, I have one spare when I’ve finished with the other one. I decided I must do some online dating and I’ll meet someone immediately and we’ll fall in love and run off into the sunset. I downloaded Tinder. Another mistake. I’ve tried online dating in the past and it’s always been a disaster and Tinder encapsulates this perfectly. I swiped right for every man that had a full set of teeth. I can’t be fussy at this age when I’m heading for Spinsterville.
I checked my bank account to see if there was enough money to buy a place. I was delighted to see that I have enough money to buy a house. A doll’s house, from Argos.
My phone vibrated, I’ve got my first Tinder message and he’s gorgeous. I opened the message and it read “Wanna see a pic of my d*ck?” Tinder got deleted.
A boyfriend, what’s the going rate for them nowadays? My last one was an expensive mistake. My next one needs to be on
Maybe I should try getting a successful career. I’ve been working towards my dream job, seriously, for a couple of years.
I was waiting to hear whether I was accepted for the biggest opportunity of my life. A couple of days before my birthday, I got a letter saying I’m ineligible, an undesirable candidate. Great. Back when I was 22, I was working for a bank that almost sank. I was a Team Manager and doing really well. I was climbing up that corporate ladder like Godzilla and The Empire State Building. I got a headache, that turned into a migraine that turned into excess fluid on the brain, which caused some serious damage to my optic nerves and eventually, left me severely visually impaired. And depressed. For years, I felt useless, unworthy and undesirable. Then in 2012 my vision deteriorated further and I was unable to continue working at the bank. I had a choice at that moment; sink or swim. After drowning in my tears for a couple of months, a lightbulb appeared above my head. I realised I have been given the greatest opportunity of my life. Now I have the time to pursue
my dream of being a Songwriter. I bought a keyboard, taught myself the basics. I hit a brick wall and felt I wasn’t moving forward with my playing and then had some lessons. The same happened with the guitar. I’m not exactly Stevie Wonder or Brian May but I can do exactly what I need to do and I have better hair. I’ve got to the point where I can accompany myself, if I need to perform live and I have also accompanied others for their live performances. Recently, a song I co-wrote got played on a local radio station. I’ve always wanted to hear my songs on the radio. Dream achieved. Almost. I also have some songs being considered for a commercial release for a new artist. Nothing is guaranteed, but it’s a far cry from what I was doing at the bank and it’s my dream job. I’m not where I want to be, or where society dictates I should be, but that’s okay. How dare I say I’ve achieved nothing at 30. I woke up alone on my birthday, got out of bed, sat at my
keyboard to have a jam. I loved it. Then I picked up my guitar and had another jam and loved it. I looked around my rented flat, at my ornamental treadmill; I made a mental note to start using it. The furniture, the chipped and fading decor and loved it. I realised, I am happy. I have a lovely home, I’m working on achieving my dream and I’m completely free. I GOT SO CAUGHT UP WATCHING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE HAS AND THINKING ABOUT WHAT SOCIETY DICTATES A 30 YEAR OLD WOMAN SHOULD HAVE; A PARTNER, KIDS, A MORTGAGE AND A SUCCESSFUL CAREER. WHAT SOCIETY DOESN’T TELL YOU IS THAT ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL. A 30 year old woman should have one thing and one thing only, happiness and that’s what I have. I’m 30, single, renting and HAPPY!
22 PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: LAURA HENDRIKX
She claims to be just another regular 20-year-old girl. Born and raised, by the name of Laura Hendrikx, in a paradise land in Central America known as Belize. Her younger years involved travelling to various countries, to which she can reasonably attribute to her ever growing passion of exploring the world. Always being interest in photography Laura loves nothing more than to capture her breathtaking experiences to share and remember forever.
1. Fake a healthy glow If your skin looks dry and blotchy from one too many vodka sodas, create a healthy complexion by applying a layer of moisturiser under your foundation. Finish with bronzer and a sweep of blusher across your cheekbones which will add colour and cover any paleness making you look instantly healthier.
8 W AY S T O L O O K G R E AT AFTER A NIGHT OUT
So you decided to go out last night despite having work at 9am the next morning, and you’re feeling (and looking) a little worse for wear. Fear not, with a few simple tricks you can look like you had 8 hours of beauty sleep, and those colourful cocktails you had last night will be your little secret.
3. Skip the hair wash Getting home in the early hours of the morning means you will want as much time in bed as possible. Skip washing your hair and massage dry shampoo into your roots. Brush through and give it a quick blast of hairspray, you’re good to go. 5. Get some potassium Alcohol drains the body of important electrolytes such as potassium leaving you feeling tired and dehydrated. Bananas and coconut water are both rich sources and provide slow releasing energy which will help you feel more alert and less hungover.
6. Wear lipstick Wearing a bright lip colour will make teeth and eyes look brighter and divert attention from bad skin. Choose a bright red or shocking pink to perk up your look and boost your confidence.
7. Don’t sweat it The dreaded hangover symptom of sweating can be a nightmare when sat in a stuffy office. Before you get dressed lightly dust talcum powder under arms and around your collar bone and follow with a spritz of perfume. The talc will absorb any perspiration and make your perfume last longer to keep you smelling sweet.
2. Drink up Chances are you are feeling dehydrated with a mouth as dry as the dessert. Upon waking drink a cup of warm water and lemon which will rehydrate your body and help to detox your liver. Sip water throughout the day, adding lemon to enhance the flavour and restore the stomachs pH levels which will help tackle nausea. 4. Hide tired eyes Tired eyes are the biggest telltale of a late night. Disguise bags by dabbing concealer under the eye area, starting from the inner corner and working downwards. If you have time, apply white eye pencil to the inner bottom rim which creates the appearance of brighter, wide awake eyes.
8. Medicate Paracetamol is not the only medication to help a hangover. For an energy boost pop a Berocca energy tablet (RRP £4.79) into some water. Steer clear of coffee and energy drinks which will only dehydrate you and make you feel worse. Boots Rehydration sachets (RRP £2.99) are also a great way to restore lost fluids.
B O DY I M A G E
SAIRA RAZA BODY IMAGE ISSUES W I L L N E V E R G O A W AY UNTIL WE RE-ASSESS T H E I M P O R TA N C E O F P H Y S I C A L B E A U T Y. A LT H O U G H A W A R E N E S S OF HOW DAMAGING IT CAN BE TO WOMEN’S SELF-ESTEEM HAS INCREASED, BODY IMAGE REMAINS A THORNY ISSUE. Photoshop has made headlines again, and its latest victims are Beyoncé (1) and Cindy Crawford (2). That pesky computerprogramme-turned-confidencedestroyer is in itself just image editing software. It goes without saying that it is only as dangerous as the person using it, as it’s mostly used for marketing purposes, Photoshop and body image tend to go hand in hand. Recently it has sparked debate yet again after unedited images of Cindy Crawford went viral, the week before unretouched images of ‘Queen Bee’ surfaced from her 2013 L’Oreal campaign. The images were leaked without their consent, I would just like to add. This is of course, nothing new to anyone with access to the
media in any of its forms. Fashion magazines and celebrity endorsements aside, re-touching images of women affects the everyday life as the images creep into our subconscious, perpetuating the idea that this level of perfection is attainable and something to aspire to; constantly relaying the message that the value of a woman lies solely on her outer beauty. It’s hard to keep up with everchanging standards of beauty, which are at the moment arguable higher than ever. Plastic surgery in the UK is on the rise (3), as you may not heard, but having ample derriere is apparently what men are into nowadays. Correspondingly, musicians just love to sing about their backsides, body shaming thin women along the way, whilst arguing that its ‘empowering’. Feminism is not, and has never been about championing one body type over another (as women come in varying shapes and sizes, just think of every female you know) and I will tear my hair out if I hear the lyric ‘skinny bitches’ (4) in a song again (looking at you- Nicki Minaj/Iggy Azealia/J.Lo/Meghan Trainor). I fear for younger and more impressionable girls as the media bombards us from all angles with images of
unobtainable beauty standards, whilst constantly re-defining what constitutes as ‘beauty’- all in the name of male validation and making profit from our insecurities. The phrase ‘one step forward, two steps back’ springs to mind. It’s a disheartening reality when the beauty and music industries find low self-esteem marketable. Take Meghan Trainor (5) for example, who boasts about having ‘all the right junk in all the right places’ in the number one single ‘All about that bass’, which on the surface is a song with a positive, empowering message about self-love. Listen to the lyrics more carefully and you get skinny-shaming and her mother apparently teaching her that boys like more booty to hold at night. Great parenting right there, and not to mention what would happen if your socalled junk happened to be in the wrong places, God forbid. Another example is Dove’s ‘real women’ (6) campaign, which featured ordinary women, of various skin tones and sizes, who weren’t models. A step in the right direction yes, however the women were still in proportion and conventionally attractive, making it nowhere near as much of a feminist fail as that of
Meghan Trainor. You do however, get the odd breakthrough. Examples being Lena Dunham’s fondness for bearing all of her wonderfully ‘normal’ body as Hannah Horvath in HBO’s hit series ‘Girls’, and the refreshingly not gratuitous sex scenes in the Netflix comedy drama Orange is the New Black. Needless to say, Photoshop culture has infiltrated social media in a big way; girls as young as 13 are using Photoshop-esque picture editing apps, such as Afterlight and PhotoWonder to touch up their Instagram posts. You can’t really blame them, my ‘explore’ feed is littered with supermodels, Victoria’s secret angels, porn stars, self-professed fitness experts (always in a bikini, reminding you that if you squat enough you will one day achieve that booty you’ve always dreamed of), Suicide girls and the like, inspiring a vast amount of copycats seeing this as the ticket to internet fame. I don’t know about anyone else, but YouTube tutorials that may as well be called ‘how to contour your face until you
are unrecognisable a la Kim Kardashian’ and ‘how to make it look like you have injected fat into your lips without actually injecting fat into your lips’ (or ‘how to make spend an hour every morning making your eyebrows double the size’) do not interest me at all, I would rather learn how to a crochet a bra, equally pointless and time consuming. PERHAPS ON A SOCIAL M E D I A T H AT R E L I E S O N LY O N P I C T U R E S T O E X P R ES S YO U R S E L F , IT’S EASIER TO REDUCE YO U R S E L F TO A B O DY PA R T TO G A I N L I K E S . In my opinion we are selling ourselves short, by not showing the world what actually are, half the population of the world who are intelligent, multifaceted beings with interest, opinions, hobbies and talents. My female peers have an enviable array of talents, ranging from photography, design, cooking, sewing, painting and being generally creative, witty and articulate. If beauty is a culturally and socially constructed concept
T U E S D AY M O R N I N G Tuesday morning, 9am. The sky is painted a gloomy shade of grey and my finger tips are frozen despite Costa’s best caffeine backed efforts. Whilst I hastily navigate through the sea of commuters, students and earlymorning-bitterness, I hear a shout to which I establish is aimed in my direction. “Smile, love!” closely followed by contributory laughter. Ah, of course, how generous of you to remind me Sir. The answer to of my frost bitten, sleep deprived February morning troubles are unlocked with a mere change of expression. Though I fear it’s not my problems which are top of your priority list.
that accounts for about 5% of who you are as a person, why not dismiss it entirely instead of trying to re-define it? I confess that is very much a feminist rant. However it is has to be acknowledged that this not just a female problem. Men too experience issues with body image, although it being less prevalent than women’s. Unedited images of Justin Bieber’s (7) Calvin Klein campaign went viral in January, revealing that his neck and arms muscles were enlarged, along with his hands and erm, crotch area. I for one feel like change is happening, but not quite fast enough. Corporations need to realise that its audience will receive messages better from someone we can actually relate to, rather than it being conveyed that we are inadequate physically. Self-acceptance does not always have to come from how you feel your appearance measures up against the standards we have been given. We have far too much else going for us to let that get us down.
Instead, it’s my face which is a problem in itself, for you. How my ‘resting bitch face’ may not contribute to your desired aesthetic and you have done the obviously noble thing and informed me about how to alter this. How considerate and caring of you to remind me that you are my main priority this Tuesday morning. That before I reach for my keys, phone and rush out of the door, I must force that silicone smile onto my face so I’m appearing eternally joyful to the outside world and namely you. It’s unfortunate that my hands were tied with vanilla cappuccinos and unnecessarily large text books so I was not able to reward you with that round of applause you so desperately deserved for your thoughtful words - That or any other gesture which may require only one hand and only one finger.
HOW TO STOP PERFECTIONISM CALLING THE SHOTS
HOW TO STOP PERFECTIONISM CALLING THE SHOTS W H E N I S AT D O W N T O S TA R T W R I T I N G THIS, I FOUND MYSELF P A R A LY Z E D . I S U P P O S E SOME WOULD CALL IT WRITER’S BLOCK, BUT IT’S NOT JUST S O M E T H I N G T H AT HAPPENS TO WRITERS. IT HAPPENS TO US ALL I N D I F F E R E N T W AY S .
Women come under pressure in all areas of life. Do well in school. Lose weight, but not too much. Get a good job, then get a better one. Get fit, but don’t bulk up. Have a beautiful home. Suck your tummy in, smooth your cellulite out. Find the perfect partner. Have flawless skin and shiny hair. Dress on trend - but only if it flatters your figure. Be a mother, but don’t give up on being a successful careerwoman. My paralysis in facing a blank screen with a flashing cursor wasn’t so much the angst of finding something to put on the page. In fact, I have hundreds of ideas of things to write about. What was stopping me was my own desire to write something the ideal piece to inspire, motivate, affect people’s lives and change their minds. What was stopping me was my own
perfectionism. The problem with “perfect” Every day, we are bombarded with ideas of perfection from all angles. Magazine features and internet blog posts tell you how to perfect everything from your butt to your baking. Pinterest is a gallery of perfect people doing perfect things. Adverts sell us products they claim will make us perfect. TV shows and movies show us perfect relationships - or the consequences when relationships aren’t up to standard. Trouble is, it doesn’t matter how great things are - whether it’s your job or your body or your love life - they could always be better. Attempting to achieve perfection is like trying to take close up pictures of the sunset. However many steps forward
, you take, your target will move as many steps further away. Letting go of perfection Perfectionism affects people in different ways. Up to a point, it can be a positive force. It focuses the mind on doing the best you possibly can at everything you attempt. It’s hard to pinpoint where motivation to do well tips over into never doing well enough. Procrastination, disappointment, feelings of failure and frustration are common and they’re hard to overcome. About five years ago, I had a conversation with my doctor about my state of mind. At that time, my mind really was a state… I was depressed and a big part of it stemmed from knowing I would never live up to my expectations of myself. I believed my persistent ‘failure’ was because I was deficient, substandard. When I’d had my say about what was making me feel so bleak, the doctor asked if I could imagine taking off the metaphorical shirt I was wearing saying ‘I’m perfect’ and instead putting on one that said ‘I’m good enough’. I instantly burst into inconsolable tears. “But ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough,” I sobbed. “Good enough is failure.” Back then, perfect was the only thing that was ‘good enough.’ Decades of disappointment in what I’d achieved in every area of my life, despite giving everything I had, had worn me out. There was only one thing for it. I needed to put down the camera and stop chasing the sunset.
Perfectionist rehab If you’re someone who finds perfectionism is less about doing well and more about never doing well enough, it doesn’t have to be this way. It may be hard to imagine a life where you’re not constantly feeling let down by your inability to do as well as you want, but you can find ways to make peace with yourself. You can learn to take pleasure in things as they are rather than grieve for what you can’t reach.
Changing your perfectionist tendencies comes from doing rather than thinking. Knowing how you behave isn’t the same as changing it. The Done Manifesto is a good place to start. Created by inventor Bre Pettis and writer Kio Stark, the manifesto reads like a perfectionist’s worst nightmare. However, there is something very liberating about it. Following its principles is a great step towards overcoming the kind of perfectionism that stops you finishing things. Point 10 is a particular favorite: “Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.” One thing that can be hard for perfectionists to accept is that it takes time to change. Part of my procrastination problem is that I want to be good at something NOW and I’m not, I’m obviously no good at it.
THE BEST THINGS IN L I F E TA K E T I M E , A N D F R E E I N G YO U R S E L F F R O M PA I N F U L PERFECTIONISM IS C E R T A I N LY W O R T H T H E WORK. PERFECTIONISTS O F T E N D O N ’ T TA K E T I M E T O A P P R E C I AT E W H AT T H E Y H AV E RIGHT NOW BECAUSE E A C H S TA G E I S J U S T A STEP IN THE P R O C E S S T OWA R D S SOMETHING BETTER. Part of my perfectionist rehab has been mindfulness – a philosophy and process by which you focus on what you’re doing right now, in this moment, and pull your mind back from planning or judging yourself. There’s no way to do mindfulness wrong. You can never be perfect at it. It’s a kind of applied kindness and acceptance that while things will be up and down, that’s okay. Taking the time to do that has proven effective time and again for many kinds of people, but particularly those who suffer from depression and anxiety. Give yourself a break The most important thing if you’re beating yourself up for being a failure is to be kind to yourself. Think about whose standards you’re trying to live up to and whether they’re reasonable. After a lifetime of being hard on yourself it can be difficult to stop. Ask yourself what you’d say to your best friend or your sister if they were saying the same things as you say to yourself. Being the best you that you can be doesn’t mean being perfect. It just means being you.
25 W H Y F I C T I O N M AT T E R S FATEMA JAIRAJ I T WA S E D U C AT I O N A L - A W AY O F E X P A N D I N G VOCABULARY AND SPEECH. BUT SOMEHOW AS I GOT OLDER, FICTION NO LONGER WA S W H AT I T O N C E HAD BEEN. FICTION IN I T S P U R E S T F O R M WA S SEEN TO BE SECONDARY I N C O M PA R I S O N TO NON-FICTION - THINGS ALL BASED AROUND FA C T A N D LO G I C . After all - what can we truly learn from books that revolve around made-up characters and settings? But just because novels are fictional, doesn’t mean they aren’t based around something real; that these books don’t have meaning. Now, I won’t deny that nonfiction material is an essential part of our world. It helps inform and educate us on things we need to know about the most.
But fiction has that same ability too. Sometimes it feels as though people overlook and dismiss the amazingly positive impact that fictional literature can have on readers. Fiction does matter. It is important - more than people realise. Fiction has the ability to put you through situations and experiences you’ve never had before. It enables you the chance to live another life other than your own, and make sense of the world around you. It introduces you to characters you have yet to meet in reality, and ones that are already present in your life. Fiction helps you to gain a different perspective to the one you already have, by exposing you to other cultures and events that you may or may have not already faced. These stories can help provide you with comfort when you feel lost, alone, confused or even angry, and give you hope for the future yet to come. They continue to puzzle you through their mysteries and suspense, and thoroughly entertain you through their witty
nature, that has you laughing so hard, you feel as if you may come apart at the seams. Fiction is a coping mechanism through the hardships of life - a warm comfort you can curl up to at the end of a hard day. But most importantly, it’s a journey that you take in the pure depths of your mind, where your brain begins to form and develop ideas, that help to change the way you see the world and the people in. Fiction teaches you indirectly about the fundamental skills of life that transcends beyond fact and logic; because people and their actions are not always logical. Emotion isn’t logical. It’s just part of human nature. As said by Michael Scott, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Without the platform to explore ideas and experiences through fiction, where would we honestly be?
ALL TIED UP
MRS M AS THE 50 SHADES OF GREY MARKETING MACHINE REACHES ITS CRESCENDO, I F I N A L LY D E C I D E D T O COW UNDER PRESSURE AND READ THE BOOKS. THIS TRILOGY HAS COME IN FOR A LOT OF CRITICISM FROM FEMINISTS AND BDSM PRACTITIONERS. P E R S O N A L LY , I J U S T CAN’T BRING MYSELF T O H AV E A S T R O N G O P I N I O N A B O U T I T. I think adult women are able to make their own minds up about their reading material without being conned into controlling relationships. However, one thing that was missing from the depictions of bondage in the book that has been significant in my (limited) experiences of light bondage is comedy.
I got tied up a fair bit at University and I did a fair bit of tying up too. It was just messing about within the realms of vanilla sex. So I’m going to share with you one of the more memorable moments from that period – the heady, innocent days before camera phones. Being tied up was not about multiple orgasms for me, It was more about experimentation. In the spirit of this, one sunny afternoon, my wrists were tied to each side of the headboard of the bed in my boyfriend’s halls of residence room. Remember those beds? They were smaller than a single, surely? On finishing the knots, he proceeded to get dressed and leave the room, saying he was off to do something and he’d be back later, killing himself laughing. I lay there in my underwear for a bit, twiddling my toes and rolling my eyes. I could hear him in the
communal kitchen laughing with some flatmates. Yup, he was telling them all about his funny joke. He returned about a minute later, with a bag of frozen peas, which he proceeded to pour all over me. Oh my God! So cold! I screamed the place down (the response he was undoubtedly looking for) and he untied me while we threw peas at each other, me gasping and throwing my clothes on as we did so. There were peas all over the bloody place, peas in my hair, peas in my bra, peas we found days later, squashed and dried all round the room. I can’t remember if we actually had sex afterwards, or if we just went back to the kitchen for a cup of tea and a giggle with everyone. That’s what sexual experimentation is about people; finding fun ways to embarrass one another. Did I get him back? Oh yes, but that’s another story.
UK TOP 15 UNCONVENTIONAL F E M A L E C R E AT I V E S
CALL ME UNIQUE WA R S A N S H I R E Warsan Shire is a Kenyan born British- Somali artist and activist, she is best known for her mind expanding poetry which brings life to narratives of culture. Winning an international poetry slam from the age of 16 this amazing lady went on to become the Young Poet Laureate for London in 2013. Her critically aclaimed book of poems “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth” is a must for every bookshelf.
The beautifully talented Call Me Unique is a singer/ songwriter born in Manchester and raised in Handsworth, Birmingham. Her music has influences from jazz, soul and the forgotten art of jazz scatsinging. These elements are combined to create her “unique” sound. Unique merges these genres with modern rap, beautiful melodies and soulful, thoughtprovoking lyrics. In 2014, Unique was playlisted as track of the week by Radio 1Xtra with her incredible signature single The Wife. Unique recently won London’s #RateMePlz Open Mic competition, hosted by the lovely Remel London.
K AT E T E M P E S T The talented London born Kate Tempest is a rapper, poet and playwrighter, she has been performing consistently and comprehensively since she began rapping in battles at just 16. Developing her skills as both a writer and a performer, she has made a name for herself in the UK hip hop, spoken word and live music scenes. In 2006, she started performing spoken word poetry, whilst in New York she entered and won the NU-Yorican Poetry Café Slam. 54
E G O E L L A M AY
Ego Ella May, a self-taught guitarist, part-time beatmaker and occasional poet possesses phenomenal vocal versatility, enabling her to scat and freestyle over her music with seemingly effortless skill. Ego has been described as one to watch and with her talents being far from limited within music we can see why!
Elektric has a one of a kind sound, her lyrics tell an honest story while fusing old school Hip Hop and RnB with electronica vibes. Her music is beautifully original and refreshing representing and championing the underground vibe of the Midlandâ€™s underground scene.
CHARLIE BARKER Charlie Barker the Nottingham gal with the manic fashion sense has become a social media sensation with over 76,000 followers on Twitter and almost 500, 000 followers on Instagram. Charlie, now signed with Select Models in London is showing the world how cool and quirky she really is. She has gone from a fashion blogger and a self titled artist to ruling social media.
AYA N N A W I T T E R - J O H N S O N Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a musical powerhouse of many talents - a vocalist, cellist, pianist, songwriter and composer. In 2012 she was nominated for a MOBO Award, a phenomenal performer of extraordinary versatility, her live shows are not just a performance they are intimate journeys that chronicle her experience as a woman in the 21st century. 55
AMBI E T TA B O KNLD The quirky OddChild Etta Bond is a breath of fresh air with her raw honest lyrics and killer confident attitude. Talented in more ways than one and known for her gifted soulful voice, she often switches it up combining rap/spoken word with her angelic singing voice, she is about to take the music scene by storm with her upcoming single “18”, don’t sleep on this amazing lady!
SIOBHAN BELL 90s baby Siobhan Bell started DJing back in 2010, after working for Cash Money Records. Since then, the East London beat-matcher has been blowing up in the UK underground scene. This one of a kind musical Queen is changing the game one mix at a time.
LITTLE SIMZ Little Simz, the ‘say it how it is’ London girl with multiple talents is a female you’ll never forget. This rapper, musician, actress and singer, has recently released her fourth mixtape Blank Canvas via JAY Z’s Life+Times website. Her work is a modern fusion of rap and experimental, with elements of rock. Simz has performed alongside Estelle, Tinie Tempah and Ms Dynamite.
MALIKA BOOKER Malika Booker a beyond talented writer, spoken word, multidisciplinary artist and film maker she has appeared world-wide both independently and with the British Council, Her work explores culture from her raw, honest and refreshing perspective, highlighting the complexities of growing as a Black British women in the UK today. Her work speaks for itself. If you don’t know her, you soon will. 56
CECILLE EMEKE Personifying the next generation of creative’s, Cecille Emeke is a talented, creative filmmaker producing visually stunning short documentaries about life and identity at a time when TV seems to have lost its edge. Her youtube series Ackee and Saltfish is blowing up the internet. An incredible talent to keep a look out for.
YS R A DA L E Y-WA R D The effortless beauty Yrsa Daley-Ward is a model, writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Yrsa combines experience with each influence to fuse poetry with theatre, music and storytelling. Her brave, startling, honest, autobiographical collection of poems ‘Bone’ is a book you need to be reading.
Hollie McNish is a published UK poet and spoken word artist, this ‘don’t hold back’ artist has released two incredible poetry albums, Touch and Push Kick, both to critical acclaim, alongside a collection of poetry, Papers which has been published by Greenwich Exchange, London. Holding the title of UK Slam poetry champion in 2009; the sky is the limit for this talented and creatively articulate lady.
The inspiring Jodi -Ann Bickley started the project One Million Lovely Letters when she was at her lowest after suffering from a mini stroke. She created a website writing handwritten lovely letters to people across the world. This amazing project has since turned into a book, which recently became a Sunday Times Bestseller. Keep shining your light Jodi!
T H E WA R A G A I N S T ANTI-SOCIAL PHONE USE. PHUBBING (V) THE ACT OF SNUBBING SOMEONE IN A SOCIAL SETTING B Y L O O K I N G AT YO U R PHONE INSTEAD OF LIVING IN THE M O M E N T A N D P AY I N G AT T E N T I O N . Phubbing stands for “phone snubbing”, a term coined by Alex Haigh, a 23-year-old resident of Melbourne, Australia, decided to wage war on anti-social phone usage by launching an online campaign against ‘phubbing’ at Stopphubbing.com. “If phubbing were a plague, it would decimate six Chinas,” Alex explains. The intention behind the campaign is serious enough: To highlight the scourge of glazed faces in public settings, text-tapping fingers during supposedly intimate dinner dates, and reunions or gatherings that might as
well have been held electronically via Google Hangouts given screen time involved or not at all. The reason the campaign has gone viral is that this is a global phenomenon that has silently crept into our lives and according to Haigh, people need to learn some manners. Honestly, he has got a point. When it comes to the age of the smartphones, tablets and other magnificent mobile delights, many of us have the tendency to behave like a bunch of teenagers. We prod and poke our shiny toys to the exclusion of anyone and anything else. Massmarket smartphones are barely 17 years old; Apples iPhones, only six; and iPads only just turned three, etiquette catch-up anyone? In the age of limitless
connectivity, we shrink each other into a text message and or a social network status update. The Stop Phubbing website itself may come across as a bit of a joke with quirky false tongue in cheek statistics such as: ‘97% of people claim their food tasted worse while being a victim of phubbing’ or ‘92% of phubbers go on to become politicians,’ along with a photo gallery of celebrities, guilty of phubbing. Free printable anti-phubbing posters and even wedding place cards on StopPhubbing.com such as: “While you finish updating your status, we’ll gladly service the
told to sit down at a computer as a sensible person would. In all seriousness, it carries a rather important message about modern society and maybe even real personal connections of a lesser quality.
polite person behind you.” “No Tweeting, No Facebook, No Sexting: respect the food, the music and the company you’re in.” Are just some of the posters available for free download from the Stop Phubbing website, in order to ward off phubbers. Then there is the amusing Name-and-Shame section, this facility is where you can upload incriminating photos that you have taken of your family and friends, exposing their incessant phubbing ways. Beware if visiting the site via your mobile browser though. Do this, and you will be met by the flashing admonition “mother fubber” then
POEM: SHE IS NIAH LILY
In an interview with the antiphubbing mastermind, Alex Haigh said. “Mobile phones have leapt into our lives and they’re absolutely everywhere and we haven’t necessarily had the time to form any etiquette or conventions surrounding them.” Haigh’s motivation behind the launch of the brilliant and though provoking campaign, was to start a global discussion about today’s technology and to force modern society to change their disconnected behaviour, which is fair to say is downright rude and offensive, or at the very least to acknowledge it. A RECENT SURVEY R E V E A L E D T H AT 5 4 % OF PEOPLE CHECK FA C E B O O K , T W I T T E R OR OTHER FORMS OF S O C I A L M E D I A D A I LY , WHILE 16% CHECKED MORE THAN 10 TIMES P E R D AY. Advertising agency McCann Melbourne, conducted their own research which showed that 37% of people think not replying to text message is worse than
Graceful and Majestic, An object of one’s affection, Beauty resides within her name, She is Grace. She embodies the traits of a queen. She looks within herself for validation. There is no mountain higher,
phubbing a friend, really? Is it that hard to hold back the urge to check your phone when the notification light flashes or beeps? Next time you go out for dinner with family or friends, take a look at the other diners around you, it shocked and saddened to witness the majority of people and 95% if not all the tables, all head down, tapping away at their mobile devices... Is this really what life has become? Have we chosen typing over real charm of human social interaction, what happened to living in the moment? Here is a fun way of getting out of the ‘phubbing’ habit; it’s called the Silicon Valley-style of splitting the bill. At your next restaurant gathering, everyone around the dinner table must place their mobile phones in the centre of the table, the first person to crack and begin fondling their screen foots the bill. The misuse of smartphones in social situations has been a problem for quite some time now, but it wasn’t until the world had a word to describe it, Stop Phubbing! You will survive. Did you know? Phubbing has been labelled by etiquette advisors as ‘the end of civilization.’ – True story.
Not a climb she cannot withstand. S h e i s B e a u t y. She is Grace. She is anointed. She is Love. There is music in her voice. There is strength within her soul. She is Grace.
IT WAS HARD WORK, BUT SO REWARDING WHEN I COULD STEP BACK, LOOK AT THE FINAL IMAGES AND THINK, I DID THOSE.
29 PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: KELSEY PIE Kelsey Pie is final year photography student at the University of Wolverhampton. As well as taking photographs, she has changed her hair colour according to her over 2745 times. Her portfolio is very varied, with her personal work differing greatly from work she create for clients. A photographer of weddings, events and promotional material, that mixes it up with more alternative and sometimes macabre imagery. The images we are showcasing are from a project based on female villains of literature; particularly Maleficent and Jadis. The inspiration came from photographers such as Kirsty Mitchell and Ekaterina Belinkskaya. The mission was to create elaborate, surreal fairytale images. Everything from the headpieces and styling of the shoots was the work of Kelsey; as well as the backdrops, make up, hair and clothes, as well as taking the photographs. The green light in the first image reflects Maleficentâ€™s jealousy and power, while the hints of blue in the second image capture the cold and icy personality of Jadis and her surroundings
S I N G L E S TAT U S : I T ’ S U N C O M P L I C AT E D
LYSANDRA LEARY S O T H E R E WA S T H I S R A N D O M G U Y T H AT I M E T O N LY O N C E YET CONSIDERING THIS HE SHOWED A N I N C R E A S I N G LY A N N OY I N G , UNRELENTING YET INCONSISTENT INTEREST IN MOI. In an attempt by text to let him know I was too busy to connect with him any time soon, I told him, “I’m happy, I have a great life and I am good.” He responded, “You’re not happy because you’re single.” What? Ouch! Slap me silly why don’t you! Text or no text, that not only stung but also hit me in the gut yet sounded incredibly immature (and possibly cray cray) on his part all at the same time. I did not bother responding and needless to say, he was cut off. As if he were ever on. However, it got me thinking… Is that how a single woman is thought of? Unhappy and desperate enough to take on anyone who feigns interest. Is this what men think of single women? I am not sure if this particular guy was a man despite his age but nonetheless he did
make the statement as fact. So he must get the idea from somewhere. I’m single; therefore I’ll take you or any other man to fill my void of (assumed) unhappiness? Wow! According to the last Census there are 105 million people over 18 years old and unmarried. If true, that is a lot of unhappiness! “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt Yes I am single and somehow I am, God forbid, happy. I am happy to know that I do not have to do anything for any ‘one’ else unless I absolutely want to rather than just because he is my plus one. Happy to live my life out and explore the way I want to live it, no chaser of a plus one to numb the fear of the inevitable. Happy to take this time to be free and simply be me. Honestly, the time alone really allows for seeing what you cannot deal with when entertaining the possibility of a committed relationship. In my being in tune with that all knowing feeling, I recently became a little concerned in wondering am I going to find somebody that I really like and I mean really head over heels crazy like? That is the only reason I can imagine adding complication to an
uncomplicated status. Is graciously settling for the next ‘it’ thing the thing for singles? Heck no, being single is the IT thing! Be in love with the element of surprise. Like Oprah says, “live your best life” until… Until who knows what will happen. It’s a surprise! Do not fret about finding the one. I am not saying the struggle isn’t real but I am saying there is beauty in the struggle! So I came up with several reasons why your single life is ultimately awesome! Keep reading… 1. The toilet seat in the bathroom is always down - no annoying accidental fall-ins. 2. You do not have to share the remote - you can watch whatever you want! 3. You can stay out as late as you want no explaining yourself. 4. You can take selfies with random guys you meet while out with your girls and make your exBF and the random dude jealous. Nobody knows the better. 5. Date who you want, how you want, where you want, when you want. Use it as a time to see another person’s life perspective
Photo: Solange Knowles
without expectation of anything more than that and see what happens. 6. Explore your dreams and hobbies - work hard, play hard on your terms during a time when you do not have to worry about catering to another. It will come. 7. There is no one to tell you how you should dress - if you are happy with it that is all that matters. 8. You do not have to cook if you don’t want to. 9. No sharing of the closet, it is all yours honey - best reason ever! 10. You don’t have to deal with somebody snoring the whole night and ruining your beauty sleep and your attitude the next day due to lack of sleep. 11. More time for family bonding, girls night out and making new connections. 12. You can go see that chick flick without feeling guilty that you may be torturing your plus one for two hours (because you are). Being single does not equate to being alone and unhappy. Of course there will be lonely moments but everyone has those, single or not. Live your life, continue to date, work, enjoy friends and hobbies that fill up your existence and create higher purpose. There is a time and place for everything even making room in your life for a permanent plus one. Use this time to get to know and love yourself even more and you will find that your criteria for love, zest for life and what you really desire can alter dramatically. What is your take on the single life? Your single life. Live life in style!
POEM: HEN DOODLEDO...OR DON’T SINÉAD BRADY At the pub on a Saturday morning, the rain outside is really pouring; it’s eleven o’clock and there are zero cocks. There’s no men. Just twenty three chicks and one hen. Slap on, plucked and tweezed, ruffling their feathers in tightly fitted tees, as they wait for the bar to start serving. Stomachs are churning. Feet already burning. Nervous about the dance routine they should have been learning. When in struts the deliverer of fiery fun, and the tally is bumped from zero to one. He squawks the hen’s name from across the room like a pitch perfect, punctual cock-a-doodle-doo. His eyes are piercing. He’s short and he’s stout and he’s here to snuff their fever out. As he wades through to the source of ignition, there’s a change in the chicks’ condition from an anxious yearning to a frenzied burning. Twenty three flaming lips scorch, flicker and dance as the hen’s flung over his shoulder to reveal her red, frilly pants. She’s carried off to the leather padded party bus where we’re told there’s champagne on ice for all of us. Excited by bubbly and aghast at his first trick, she’s followed out by all of her chicks. The champagne is passed out of the truck to me, and I take a sip of what turns out to be Perry. The fireman hoists our hen into the truck and gives her a peck. Then twenty three chicks decide they can’t possibly manage the steps. I make sure no one can see my pants, and tell myself it’s a form of contemporary dance. I stretch out my calves and give my ankles a roll, imagining myself gliding down the fireman’s pole; I am willing to go to great lengths in this gender dragshow experiment. Holding myself tall and taut, I comfort myself with the thought that this man, short and stout, will never know where my mind had drifted, as I prepared my body to be fireman lifted.
T H E N AT U R A L S W I R L THE UNDERTONE OF TEXTURE TRACEY JOHN
AFTER 10 YEARS OF H O S T I L E R E S I S TA N C E , 7 M O N T H S A G O , I F I N A L LY G AV E I N T O M Y B E S T FRIEND’S DEMANDS F O R M Y N AT U R A L HAIR TRANSITION. I R E L U C T A N T LY COMMITTED TO GIVE UP THE CREAMY CRACK AND EMBRACE THE N AT U R A L K I N K S C U R L S A N D C O I L S T H AT G O D BLESSED ME WITH.
Like most beginning transitioners and naturals, I researched and invested in products and techniques to learn how to properly care for and maintain my new tresses. Youtube became my saving grace. For hours on end, I watched hair journeys, big chops, detangling techniques and protective styles. After investing what felt like hundreds of hours in tutorials, I started to notice a common theme. MOST of the beautiful natural sisters I was learning from were either single, or committed to men who weren’t Black. This piqued my interest.
I joined natural hair groups on Facebook and noticed the same thing. I started to draw a correlation between natural and “swirling”. Swirling is a term used in conjunction with interracial relationships. I decided to join interracial groups to test my theory. Sure enough, a considerable amount of the women in these forums were natural textured beauties. These women were eloquent and cultured. They exuded pride and confidence in every attribute unique to our race. I found it ironic that women, who took pride in all things ebony, drew the line when it came to their
love lives. Countless posts and comments reinforced the idea that Black men want nothing to do with “our kind”, while white men adore us. There were far too many stories of these women and their children being abandoned by the Black men they loved and supported. The more I read, the more I could relate. I came face to face with the fact that the climate between Black men and Black women is, in fact, HOSTILE! Who knew that my quest for the perfect curls would lead me to this revelation? Sisters recounting instances of being called Black, nappy headed and ugly, by the very men they loved unconditionally had made a conscious decision to abandon ship. While I initially cringed at the thought of the possible extinction of the Black family, I came to a place of empathy. As I walked down my
own personal memory lane the most significant pain I’d ever experienced in my life was at the hands of Black men. What a horrific realization. Men I’d loaned my credit or money to, helped find employment for and just supported in general had ALL disappointed and hurt me. Yet, I love Black men. I decided to look to my personal circle of friends and I was shocked to hear that they were all HOPING that I would marry someone who is NOT Black. When I asked them to explain why the logic ranged from the educational disparity between myself and most Black men to the regressive maturity of most Black men. I listened to stories of disparaging comments from successful Black male celebrities to my own ex-husband who abandoned our marriage and our 2 children for a white latina; living with her parents in the
projects. I walked away from my impromptu mini research project feeling that generally speaking, Black women hate Black men, because they hated us first. What a jagged pill to swallow. I asked my brother what his take on the dynamic was. He said and I’m quoting here, “you mean the afro wearing educated sisters? I see them all the time at the high end restaurants. White men can have them, ‘cause we don’t want them.” Pursuant to that statement, I finally decide to embrace the fact that these God given curls might lead me straight to the arms of a man who’s prone to sun burn. While this wasn’t my intent, it may very well be my reality. I’ve now joined the droves of women who have come to terms with this fact. Looks like love may have a colour after all, well two colours, intertwined.
G H A N A I A N FA S H I O N DESIGNER: A KOS UA A F R I Y I E- K U M I Akosua is building an African brand ethically and conscientiously one handbag at a time. Ghanaian Fashion designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi wants the world to see how luxury and quality can grow from traditional designs and is using her fashion company to change perceptions of Africa through fashion. After interning and working with fashion designers such as Peter Pilotto, Matthew Williamson and William Tempest in London, Akosua embarked on her own path in 2013 to set up A A K S in Ghana. A A K S produces raffia bags handmade by a women’s cooperative in Bolgatanga, northern Ghana. The brand produces luxurious handmade
accessories using ethical processes and age-old craft traditions, are not often seen beyond the borders of Ghana. Akosua seeks to showcase the unlimited possibilities for the fashion and textile industries in her home country. Using skills and techniques that are unique to this part of Ghana, craftsmanship is at the companies roots. A A K S brand tells an exciting story of Ghana, offering a different perspective of Africa as a whole. To see more of these amazing bags visit: www.aaksonline.com
LICKING SLEGEHAMMERS POWER OR POODLE?
LORRAINE JENKIN I’VE ALWAYS STRUGGLED WITH THE QUANDARY ABOUT WOMEN BEING OVERTLY SEXUAL IN THEIR ART, AND WHETHER IT IS A STATEMENT OF CHOICE AND POWER, OR WHETHER IT’S HANDING MEN EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT ON A PLATE. I went to a theatre whilst in New Zealand to see Romeo and Juliet. I’m immature enough to have been really pleased with myself for being so mature and cultured to go and watch such a thing. The performance was great and turned the unintelligible desert of Shakespeare that I struggled with at school into a beautiful story. Halfway through the performance the lights dimmed and a tender scene between Romeo and Juliet slowed down until there was just the two of them in the room, lit by a single spotlight.
The audience held its breath, as Romeo undid Juliet’s blouse and caressed her naked breasts and we all watched, pretending not to be spell-bound… Suddenly, the lights charged on, music blared and the audience, again as a whole, cleared their throats, adjusted their clothing and pretended that they hadn’t been affected by the nudity whatsoever. Twenty minutes later, everyone was walking down the stairs chatting about how marvellous the performance was, and I felt that perhaps I was the only one who’d noticed. As I stood in the foyer and put my coat on, three teenage boys walked by - presumably there because they were studying the text at school. Instead of commenting about the quality of the lighting or integrity of the cadence, they burst into fits of giggles: “Did you see those tits? They were fantastic!” I’m now in the position of having three daughters and I struggle to teach them to value
themselves against tides of air-brushing, plastic surgery and the expectation of size zero. Everywhere they look, women are displaying their worth through twerking, shagging important men and having bolder plastic surgery than their rivals. The question is, whether this is the power of feminism for women to be able to dress and undress as they wish in order to display their freedom, strength and creative worth - or is it leaving men rubbing their hands in glee as they don’t even have to bother to exploit women any more: they are doing it themselves. MILEY CYRUS HAS COPPED IT MANY A TIME FOR HER OVERTLY SEXUAL VIDEOS. MY SADNESS IS THAT I LOVE THE MUSIC, BUT AM NOT TOO BOTHERED ABOUT WATCHING SOMEONE LICK A SLEDGEHAMMER. My point being that I am the kind of person who buys Miley
Cyrus music – i.e. I’m female and solvent, quite different to the kind of person who is enjoying her videos – male, and with a cock in his hand. The quest for marketing to increase sales has got blurred with the ability to make people look sexier than they ever have in the history of media. Presumably there may come a time when these fabulous women realise their worth is more obvious than the extent of their inner thigh gap and that it might be nice to be valued for their talents, rather than selling their product via their sexuality. What would happen if Miley Cyrus had cankles? Would she still be spinning around naked on a wrecking ball, or would she just be enjoying her music? What if these talented people have four kids and things go a bit awry body-wise – would they still be
expected to grind naked along a beach, sprayed gold? Doubt it. I watched a TV programme a while ago that highlighted women who had turned their lives around through plastic surgery – mainly whopping great boob-jobs. One twenty-yearold’s boyfriend was moaning, saying that he felt his girlfriend was pulling away from him since having the surgery. As a viewer, I thought, Get a grip, sap! Let your girlfriend grow in whatever way she wants! The girlfriend was interviewed and was proud of her new assets, saying that she was now a dancer, proud to show off her wares. The next scene showed her swinging round a pole, new breasts out, gold thong glittering. Sadly, the scene after that showed that she was in an empty club, apart from five portly, sweating, disinterested business-men
BUILDING TOGETHER Ladies, we all have a commonality when it comes to building towards success and reaching our goals. However, many of us don’t realize how important it is to build together. With a vision, a plan, and passion, you can do anything. But imagine connecting with a person who shares the same. You can do so much more. As young women trying our best to create change in the world today, it’s important that we surround ourselves with like minded women. Women with the same mission in mind. Networking is one of the most significant things we can do. Whether it be a company or organization we’d like to start, or even a program or event that’ll benefit the lives of others; it’s perfectly okay to join forces with someone else who’s also trying to build. Not only can you do more with someone else, you can also
chatting idly around a high bar, whilst this poor girl danced for her newly found power. Assuming that others have the same concerns, we need a plan to measure these quandaries against. I believe I have that plan: I am suggesting that whenever an artist is choreographed to perform in an overtly sexual way – be it a music video, a perfume advert or a B-list celeb trying to boost themselves to an A-lister – that they take a breather for two minutes and apply my test. I am suggesting that the person who is intimating the action, hinting at a massive boob-job or telling their girlfriend that they prefer women who are shaved, be momentarily put into the body of a sleazy sweaty man in an acrylic cardigan and Mac. I would suggest that this might put a different slant on things…
learn from them. When you connect with someone who has gotten to a level that you wish to reach, you learn the ropes. Even if it’s someone who’s on the same level as you, there’s still something you can get from them. There’s something you may know that they may not be aware of, and in turn they may know something you may not have come across. HAVING SOMEONE SUPPORTING YOUR GOALS AND DREAMS AND WISH TO BE APART, WILL PUSH YOU TO DO EVEN BETTER. IT’LL HELP YOU TO GO EVEN HARDER IN THE DIRECTION OF YOUR GOALS. IT’S AN ENCOURAGEMENT WHEN YOU SEE THAT YOU AREN’T THE ONLY WHO DESIRES TO REACH OTHER PEOPLE, OR YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT SEES THAT THERE’S A NEED FOR CHANGE.
Making solid connections is a very good way to build. It’s great to always gave a support system and be a support to someone else. Through these connections, the support and empowerment is all around. Not only are they making a difference, but you are as well. So I encourage you to continue to build towards that level of success you desire, but don’t be afraid to connect with others who are going down that same path. Not only will it be beneficial to you, but it’ll be beneficial to them; as well as those you will eventually reach.
NEET WOMEN A N D C R E AT I V E CAREERS
33 SHARMEEN CHOWDHURY THE FIRST THING A C R E A T I V E W O M A N M AY N O T I C E I S T H AT T H E WORLD IS TOUGHER THAN SHE THINKS. IT’S HARD TO DECIDE W H AT T O B E . I’ve been told that one can’t make a career out of writing and so I put away my fiction and started writing standard CV’s, cover letters and send them out, for white collared jobs. Turns out, I was doing the wrong thing. I was fresh out of university, unable to decide what I really wanted, like many other graduates who found themselves suddenly thrown in the deep end and may be unemployed for years endlessly searching for a 9-5 job. With or without a degree, creative women often face this problem that, there isn’t any support for creative career choices. Support yourself and stop listening to those who deter you. I was told that I couldn’t make a career out of writing because it was a hobby. Ironically enough, there’s no proof of that. Ever wondered why they ask you to list your hobbies on your CV? What you love doing in your spare time speaks so much volumes about you. You may enjoy knitting, painting, filming - anything that ignites passion. With the fear of unemployment,
it’s tempting to squash your talent and apply for “normal” jobs you know will bore you. According to Economy Policy and statistics, 53 % of 16-24 year old females are unemployed. They are categorised in NEET. Not in employment, education or training. If you belong in that category, you have a creative talent and wish to stand out from the competition, get volunteering. By the time you land your next interview, you can say, “I kept my skills up to date,” and have new references. Experience matters more than education which is why many universities are so insistent that you take up a placement during your studies. It takes time to develop skills and creative talent. The Young Women’s Trust claimed that, “Women in NEET, aged 18-24 are likely to be unemployed for at least 36 months before their 30th birthday.” Sadly this is true but we should take this as a lesson and spend our time wisely, especially if we’re out of work. Happy people are people doing things with their time and doing things they love. Women are also poorly represented in creative industries. In the UK, only 9% of film directors are women. A finding by WFTV- Women in Film and Television, reported that only 36 % of TV crew are women. So where are the creative
unemployed women? And what could be holding them back? The reason being that women are faced with caring roles such as mothers and wives, even in 2015. I’ve heard a saying where you’re only more likely to be a successful artist if you’re single and free of comfort. An artist has to toil hard to get where they are. Every time a movie producer makes a film, they are taking a risk. All artists, writers, designers, singers, take that risk when they invest time in their talent. Bottom line is that anyone can pursue a creative career if they devote themselves to it, even if it means quitting, experimenting or changing. Anisa, a university student from Derby, UK says that, “My experience whilst in my first year at university I always thought that textiles was the right choice because of its flexibility it had to offer. However halfway through my first year I realised it wasn’t as flexible and creative. In fact there was lots of research involved, history lectures etc... My decision was to change course and university that had the right offer for me. So I chose fashion studies at Derby University. This was the best decision for me and I am now happy doing what I love. My advice for other creative women is to follow your dreams, because you can make
them become a reality, it’s not a waste of year it’s an experience and its learning curve.”
to hear that you’re an intelligent and talented person from others. THE LOW-SELF-ESTEEM
We should not be ashamed in changing courses, placements, jobs just to find what we’re better at. Most of us can fall into traps by trying to please others rather than pleasing ourselves. The need to have someone listen to us is so great that we place all importance in just doing what others want us to do.
COMES FROM BELIEVING
The Young Women’s trust interviewed three unemployed women, one of whom made a statement:
But it feels even better when you accept that it’s true.
“It is getting hard to fight the fight, especially when you’re not getting the support or the backing that you need. It’s about having someone to listen to, not to judge you but to just to listen.” In addition, The Young Women’s Trust showed that, “54 % of women report lacking selfesteem.” By telling yourself, “I am good enough, I can do this and I will do this,” can help build confidence and make your personality shine in interviews. It always feels good
T H AT YO U ’ R E N O T G O O D E N O U G H , YO U ’ R E G O I N G T O FA I L I F YO U TA K E T H AT R I S K . W E L E A R N F R O M M I S TA K E S A N D W E ALSO LEARN FROM OUR ACHIEVEMENTS.
Coming from a small town myself, there little to no opportunities for creative writing. I sat down, made a list of how to get closer to my career to be and told myself, I should have done this sooner.
portfolio counts. An aspiring film director can’t be a film director unless they have a reel, an aspiring fashion designer isn’t a fashion designer unless they have stitched and made clothes, all you need is something to show, evidence of your creativity. And research your field. Knowledge is power, the more you know the more likely you will be successful. So there’s no shame in being unemployed, take it as time to develop yourself before you land that dream job. Remember, J.K Rowling never gave up, despite being a single mum.
It takes time to invest in your career but as someone who keeps their options open, I learnt that making your own opportunities counts as much as actively seeking jobs. It could be using up your spare time to write, to design or whatever creative talent you have; for every creative person having a
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: D A V I N A K E L LY B I R D Davina Kelly is a 32 year old who has always enjoyed being creative even from an early age, from ceramic work, painting, drawing, singing, writing and acting, culminating in a Master degree in film and theatre arts. Since then, she has always worked in areas which have involved educating others, this brought her to a recent realisation “it is
a drawing style more commonly known in America as Zentangle. It is a style of drawing which promotes meditation whilst focussing on each pen stroke”.
all very well motivating others to follow their dreams, without doing so myself”. She has recently become a carer for her father. “It is during this time I became interested in
She started using this technique whilst her dad was undergoing major surgery, to try and help take her mind off what was happening. As she continued with the techniques she started combining the style with images. Her inspiration comes from HR Giger, steampunk, gothic art and surrealism.
SISTERHOOD SHOWING HER LOVE ZANDILE MAHLOBO
AS YO U G ROW U P I N TO A WO M A N YO U W I L L S TA R T T O R E A L I Z E T H AT L I F E I S N ’ T A P L AY G R O U N D W H E R E Y O U O N LY C R Y AFTER TRIPPING AND FA L L I N G O N TO T H E G R O U N D . C E R TA I N LIFE EVENTS SHALL S E E YO U C U R S I N G MORE THAN ONCE A N D P E O P L E T H AT S U R R O U N D Y O U M AY SEEM SO CRUEL. How many times have you found yourself miserable and nobody seemed to care? Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if girls were there for each other, built each other’s confidence instead of laughing out loud in each other’s faces
and creating gossip? Change starts with you, treat a girl the way you would like to be treated as well, learn and let the bad experience she’s going through groom you into the best young lady you can possibly be! Oh no she got dumped… Instead of moving your fingers faster than the Gautrain as you bbm friends telling them that so and so has been dumped, take a moment and imagine yourself in her shoes. Would you like people knowing about your hurtful experience and making a joke out of it? Yes she may not fall under your list of best friends but nobody deserves to be dumped especially if they were madly in love with that guy, which is something you might not be aware of. If you get a chance to have a private face to face conversation with her, be
friendly, though she might not have a boyfriend to show her love she will feel as if still loved by the rest of the world. She’s repeating a grade… So she wasn’t in your class last year and it’s obvious she’s repeating because she was in the same grade the previous year, don’t make it your business because it isn’t. Don’t start assuming things like she’s not clever and mock her every time you see her. There may be many reasons as to why she’ s repeating, she could have fallen sick the previous year and couldn’t complete her studies, her parents could have divorced and living new conditions caused an inner distraction etc. If you see that she needs any assistant in particular subjects you good at, toss a smile and offer assistance or even ask her to join you and
your friends during the lunch break because she might not have many friends in the class. Oopsie red robot at school… The worst thing that could happen is “that time of the month” arriving sooner than expected and a girl is still at school. Don’t go stand with the boys and make it a joke. If she isn’t aware of the mess call her aside and inform her. If you wearing a jersey or blazer and she isn’t let her use it so she can cover up whilst you walk her through the school yard to the girls toilet’s or school nurse. Your support will make a difference and would leave her feeling less embarrassed. She has an unpleasant smell… It could be the smell of any part of her body or just her hair. If people are calling her names
behind her back, be mature and try finding ways to inform her. If you use a hair product that leaves your hair smelling good all day, suggest it to her. Yes, you might be scared to hurt her feelings but imagine how devastated she would be to find out that half the class or school refers to her as “smelly chick” and nobody has ever bothered to help her curb that? Her parents are divorcing… A separation of parents can see someone’s life change drastically in more ways than one. A person could be forced to move into a new suburb or enrol into another school and we know that isn’t cool. Anybody’s parents can decide to divorce so before you start seeing amusement in the fact that on family day at school only her dad and brother shows up, exhale positive energy and make her feel like school has its own family environment
and needs not to worry much about what is happening at home. When you all hanging out together try and keep away from topics that see you and your friends talking about your happy families and highlighting that all your parents are still together. Remember we all come from different homes that may have their own type of problems and for some… spending few hours at school just to be away from it all serves as the perfect therapy. So what words roll off your tongue… are they building or breaking? Everything you say or do can break and make a person. Resources provided by a president and his government can keep a country moving by making sure their citizens are catered for but it’s only YOU that has the power to give that much needed, smile or hug of comfort that a girl may just DESPERATELY need. ☺
MEET OUR CONTRIBUTORS Here at TNF MAG we only select the finest writers from around the world, beings that are brave enough to speak open and honestly from their place of truth, on subjects that are often make people turn a cheek. These people defy the convention, they are bold, they are outspoken, they are disruptive.
AMARA LAWRENCE England @HeartbrakeAve
CHARY SATHEA United States of America @viaCHARY
CLAIRE MACALLISTER Australia @clairenicolemac
DAVINA KELLY England @dave_in_a_bird
ELEANOR BUCHANAN England @EBuchananActor
ELLIE SWEETNAM England
EMMA KINNA United States of America @SuchaSlutzker
FATEMA JAIRAJ England @creativeinarts
FHARHUNA CHOUDHURY England @AnniChoudhury
FLORENCE JILLETT Wales @florencejillett
HOLLY SKELTON England @HollySkelton_x
JOANNE LEIGH DANVERS South Africa @JoanneLDanvers
GEORGIA OWEN England @teandbiscuits
KIMBERLEY SIAN FARRELL England @Kimberz2
Krystle Jones United States of America @lovelymissjones
LAURA JONES England @lauramarie_xox
KELSEY PIE England @KelseyPiePod
LAURA HENDRIKX Belize @jo_hendrikx
LESLIE WALTON United States of America @L_Marie1976
LORRAINE JENKIN Wales @Lorrainejenkin
MRS M England
NIAH LILLY United States of America @niahly2012
RIGEL KENT England @AleemSaRaSun
SHARMEEN CHOWDHURY England @Sharmeen_sch
YASMIN Malaysia @bnimsay
ROHAA LANGENHOF Netherlands @metarohaa
SINÉAD BRADY Spain @SineadRoseBrady
ZANDILE MAHLOBO South Africa @Ambitious_Zandy
LYSANDRA LEARY United States of America @lysandraleary
NICKI KELLY England @NickiKelly
RUPI KAINTH Canada @buffroopi
SISIPHO ZAMXAKA South Africa @SisiphoZamxaka
ZOE GOODACRE Wales @zgoodacre
MARIE-ANNE LEONARD England @minormiracle
NINA ELCAO United States of America @ohheyynina
SAIRA RAZA England @Saira_R
TRACEY JOHN United States of America @traceyanita
TNF MAG which stands for The New Female, is an international digital platform providing an uncensored voice for the creative females of toda...