Role Reversal

I know that domestic abuse and sexual assault is one of the most hotly talked about subjects on the internet, and I’ve been extremely hesitant to touch on the matter for fear of being repetitive or simply because I am far from being an expert on the subject. However, the other day I saw a video that came up on my Facebook news feed that really emphasises something that I’ve always thought true but is never really talked about.

You can click here to see the watch the video on YouTube, which is an experiment created by Humanity Initiative who are a charitable organisation that help in supporting male victims of domestic violence. The experiment uses actors who play a couple out in public and the whole thing is filmed by hidden cameras. The video starts by showing the male acting aggressively towards his ‘girlfriend’ in a crowded public space, and before long multiple people interfere, saying  “someone will call the police” and telling the woman “you don’t have to endure that honey”.

The video then goes on to show the exact same scene, in the same place, with the same actors, but on a different day. This time, however, the female is the aggressor, pushing her ‘boyfriend’ and saying “do not try to walk away from me”. Immediately, the reaction from spectators couldn’t be more different, some watch with an indifferent amusement and others are visibly laughing.

To be honest, this really hit home and emphasised something that people really don’t talk about enough. 38% of domestic abuse victims are male, yet it has been made into such a female-orientated issue. The media makes it out that the physical strength that males usually have over females means that they are always the ones in control and can’t be real victims- something that really isn’t helped by supposed ‘feminists’. This is a whole other issue in itself, but the kind of people that put across this idea are those that give feminists such a bad reputation when really their true principles are those that I’m sure the majority of people would fully agree with.

According to the dictionary definition, feminism is “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men”. Now if you take the definition of egalitarianism – “the belief in the quality of all people, especially in political, economic or social life”. Pretty similar, aren’t they? Yet feminists are portrayed by the media, partially by their own fault, as greedy, antagonistic man-haters, when in reality they simply believe in equal rights for men and women, in all aspects of life.

I’m not trying to downplay the effects of domestic violence on females in  any way, but I’m just struck by the thought of how it must feel to be a male victim in a society that doesn’t really seem to think this exists. On top of the fear and shame and helplessness that comes regardless of gender, you’d have to deal with feelings of emasculation, and constant pressure to never appear weak. Society loves to talk about how women are constantly pressured into holding up ideals of beauty and perfection, but what about the way in  which we expect all men to be fearless and manly all the time? As hard as it is for female victims to speak out, I imagine it’s ten times worse for males. And maybe that’s why no one talks about it.

Book Launch: Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

On Wednesday night, I was lucky enough to go to the launch for the book that’s causing a storm both in the US and here in England. Written by 15-year-old Maya Van Wagenen, Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek is an eighth-grader’s memoir about her extraordinary journey from social outcast to daring 1950’s lookalike in pearls- something that was simply not done in her small middle school on the Mexican border.

IMG_1995The story is basically about her discovery of a book written by Betty Cornell in the 50’s all about teenage popularity. Maya decided it would be interesting to follow the advice given in the book to the letter as a sort of social experiment, and see if it could translate into the modern day- as, in her own words, she had “nothing to lose”. From girdles to gloves and hats, the next year of her life was an interesting one to say the least, from materialistic things, to mannerisms and confidence tests.

IMG_2107The book launch was held on the tenth floor of the Penguin offices on the strand, with a breath-taking view over London, especially late at night. The reason I was lucky enough to go was because my parents run a vintage clothing and homewares business and were invited to come along with some of their stock, so I joined them to help out. After getting dolled up by the 50’s hair and makeup pop-up salon that came along, we spent the evening chatting to various bloggers and people from Penguin, before going to hear Maya herself speak.

IMG_2006The evening was hosted by the editor of Glamour magazine, Jo Elvin, who interviewed Maya and then opened it up to us to ask questions. I can honestly say I was blown away by how eloquent and insightful she was for a girl of fifteen, there were definitely strong feelings of inadequacy within me  when hearing her speak! She talked about the project, which she described as her hunt for the true meaning of popularity. When asked if she had managed to find the answer, she smiled and said simply that there was no true definition. She knew only what it wasn’t; it wasn’t the clothes you wore or the way you walked, or having everyone know your name. It’s about realising that there is no difference between those at the top and the bottom; they both have the same worries, the same fears, and the same hopes. It’s about being able to put that to one side, put yourself out there and treat people as your equal, and they will reciprocate.

IMG_1957Maya is by no means your average high school ‘popular’ girl, but she’s happy. Whilst the book puts across this message skilfully, and if definitely a must-read- especially for pre-teens- it’s not until you meet her in person that you realise what an inspirational person she is and how much we could truly learn from her. At fifteen, with a movie already in the works and a best-selling book, I feel this is nowhere near the last we are going to see of Maya Van Wagenen.

So Let’s Talk About Exams

There’s no point avoiding the subject and pretending that they aren’t coming anymore, I hate to say. With GCSE and AS exams starting tomorrow, and A2s only a few weeks away, it’s fair to say that the general atmosphere at the moment is one of high stress levels, short tempers,  and over-eating. I’ve seen millions of articles floating around, and plenty of presentations at school, about how to control the stress and actually motivate yourself to revise, but I’m yet to find one that really helps.

I’ll be the first to put my hands up and say I am truly awful at motivating myself to revise. I’m one of those people that managed to get through GCSEs by revising the night before and partially winging it, then got to A level and realised that just wasn’t going to cut it. It’s impossible to get even half-decent marks with no work at this stage, so I’ve had to completely rethink my way of working. In a way it’s a whole lot better than last year in that you are only taking subjects that you enjoy (hopefully) so the work is more enjoyable, but even someone who loves literature as much as I do can get fed up analysing WW1 poetry to death for hours on end.

I think what I’ve found to be the most important thing is to go into revision with a positive attitude, or else you’ll simply get nothing done. I’ve spent countless evenings at my desk with books spread out, beating myself up about how I should be revising and refusing to move from that spot, but not actually being able to work up the motivation to do it. It took me surprisingly long to realise that if you don’t feel like revising at all, then don’t. Put it out of your mind for a bit, do something proactive like going on a walk or meeting some friends for an hour or so, then come back to it when you’re in a more positive frame of mind.

Of course, this can easily lead to continuous procrastination meaning you never actually get round to revising, so make sure you keep what you have to do, and how long you have to do it, in perspective. I’ve tried countless revision timetables, but never stuck to them so I gave that idea up a long time ago. Sure, everyone is different so it might work for some people and it’s a great way of staying on track. Instead though, I’ve found a better method is to write down the things you need to do in order to revise for each subject in the order of importance, then simply work down the lists and tick them off as you go. This means you still stay focused on what needs to be done, but leaves it flexible and stops you getting stressed if you’re behind on your schedule.

Often the simplest things are the most effective, so don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. I am completely guilty of staying up until the early hours watching whole series of shows far too many times, but needless to say this does not put you in the right frame of mind to work. One of the biggest favours you can do your mind is to switch off electronics at least half an hour before you sleep; if you find you aren’t tired then try reading or listening to soothing music to help switch your brain off.

Other than that, just try not to stress too much, although I am well aware that that’s much easier said than done. Also try and put it into perspective- the grades you achieve now are unlikely to affect your life in the long run anywhere near as much as it may seem now. Do your best for yourself and be happy with that, as cheesy as that may sound. I know that I’m no expert, but this is something that I know is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment and I just want to wish everyone good luck in their exams- just try your best and it’ll all be okay in the end. Now I’ve just got to follow my own advice..

April Favourites

Another month down and I swear the weather has gotten even worse- so much for thinking summer was on its way. I’m sorry for not posting a review this week but my life has become pretty consumed with revision recently seeing as my exams start this week and saying I am unprepared is an understatement! Anyway, seeing as April has drawn to a close, here are some of the things I was loving throughout the month.

 

The-Great-British-Sewing-Bee-Book1TV show- The Great British Sewing Bee

I know that many of you will think this is an odd choice for a 17 year old girl, but this has to be one of my favourite programmes on TV. I am a huge fan of sewing, I took GCSE Textiles and considered it for A level, but ended up just doing plenty in my spare time. I’ve been obsessed with the American tv show Project Runway for years, and I guess this is our version of it. It’s incredibly British, surprisingly funny, and just pretty fab. I’m rather upset that it’s over and I’m not ashamed to admit it.


IMG_1957Book- Popular by Maya van Wagenen

I heard about this book from my mum actually, who has been invited to the book launch for this and I’m lucky enough to be going with her, so I thought I should probably read the book first. It’s written by 15-year-old Maya who lives in Texas and is a true story about her discovery of a book written in the 1950s about how to be popular, with chapters ranging from makeup. Maya, a social outcast, decides it would be a fun experiment to follow a chapter each month of the year to the letter, and see whether there was any wisdom in this book that was still relevant 60 years later. Whilst this may sound like the plot of many a Disney tween movie, it’s surprisingly funny and well-written considering Maya’s age. Considering I read it not expecting much, I enjoyed it surprising amounts and ended up finishing it in about 3 hours without stopping.


IMG_1852Makeup- Bourjois Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder

I bought this finally a few weeks ago after wanting it for ages thanks to Tanya Burr’s love for it, and I can totally see why. First off, it looks like chocolate and smells delicious, so that’s always a bonus. More importantly though, they actually do it in a colour pale enough that my ghostly skin doesn’t look like it’s been rubbed in mud and instead just looks nicely sunkissed. Plus the ‘glints of sunshine’ which it claims to be filled with give your skin a really beautiful glow, so for the price I think it’s a pretty fab product.

 


IMG_1764Hair Care- Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Luscious Long Deep Treatment

Well that’s a heck of a name. I bought this a while ago because since I’ve been growing my hair it’s become horribly dry at the ends, so I figured a deep treatment was the way forward. I know Aussie is well-known as a great brand of hair products, but I hadn’t heard much about this product in particular so it was a bit of a blind buy. I must say I love it though; I’ve definitely noticed the difference after applying this to the ends of my hair instead of my usual conditioner. They do loads of different variations depending on your particular hair type and issues, which is great. Plus, it’s super cheap.


crystal-fightersMusic- Crystal Fighters

I’ve loved Crystal Fighters for quite a while, but this month I’ve found myself listening to them non-stop, especially You & I. It’s the perfect mix of genres and reminds me so much of summer. It’s just one of those songs that makes you happy every time you hear it, so what’s not to love about that. Moreover, the cover art is just the most beautiful thing. (ps I’ve started a summer playlist on spotify so if anyone is even  slightly interested you can click here)


220px-The_boat_that_rocked_posterFilm- The Boat That Rocked

I know I’m very late to hop on the bandwagon for this one, but I watched this film for the first time when it was on TV last week and totally fell in love. For some reason, I had it in my head that it was a completely different kind of film so I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s hilarious, heart-warming and incredibly feel good- after the credits rolled I just sat there for ages with a huge grin on my face. Has to be up there with my favourite films of all time, and I don’t say that lightly.


IMG_1783Place- Boston Tea Party, Bristol

When I went to Bristol a couple of weeks ago for Record Store Day, I knew that brunch at Boston Tea Party was a must. Even though I’ve heard they’re awesome, I’d never actually got the chance to visit one and I immediately loved it. The decor is so completely me and the food is fabulous. I introduced my friends Hannah and Shona to pancakes, bacon and maple syrup (what kind of weirdos haven’t tried that before) which as you may know, is my favourite breakfast of all time. Big love for this place, I could see myself spending a lot of time there.


IMG_1820Food- Easter Eggs

What else could I possibly put for my food favourite in Easter? Although the amount of chocolate I got kind of stressed me out, it was a lovely day full with the family and the Easter egg hunt was super cute. Although I wanted to put in a photo of my egg from my mum, which was the most beautiful thing ever, I realised I ate most of it before taking a photo… oops. So have an adorable basked of mini eggs instead, and a belated happy Easter!

So there you have it: some of my favourite things this month which I couldn’t help but share with you. Make sure to check the stuff out because I don’t just obsess over things for nothing. I apologise in advance if my posts become less frequent or worse quality in the coming weeks; starting on Tuesday I am in exam season until the middle of June so will be in full-on stress mode. Of course, I’ll still be posting as much as I can because ultimately this is what I love and exams can sod off if they think I’m giving this up for a month!