Reserved for ruffians and sailors: How to unsuccessful navigate ‘smart casual’

Who invented the dress code ‘smart casual/? No really? I guarantee they were the type of people who would never be able to pick somewhere to eat but turn down all other suggestions and then not order chips and steal all of yours- AKA the worst kind of people.

Usually when you ask for a dress code it is because you don’t want to get it wrong- smart and casual are two different dress codes and for a girl who spends her life in pyjamas, I need the clarity. Can I turn up in trainers? Should I wear a dress? Can I fool them into believing I’m a grown woman?

Since leaving uni the prospect of real, adult job interviews has been more imminent than ever. It has finally dawned on me that putting in a 9-5 stint of House of Cards isn’t actually sustainable and by September my overdraft will be gone (not that I am already teetering on the cusp of it already).

Obviously different sectors demand different dress codes from staff. I count myself lucky that I can turn up to placements in my outdoor pjs or culottes as they are more commonly known, and it generally falls in line with what everyone else is wearing.

We are taught from such a young age that first impressions matter. Yet no one should judge a book by its cover (wow, all the clichés). How far are you supposed to go in interviews to impress an employer regarding the way you look?

This has stemmed from a very long standing debate with my parents about my facial piercings and wrist tattoo. According to relatives unless I want a job at sea I have severely decremented my chances of employment. A few months ago I was told that the shine off my nose ring or tongue bar could distract an interviewee. I’m easily distracted but really?

As I have written before, it baffles me that people still think they can pass judgement on certain aspects of people’s appearance like it really has anything to do with them. Yet I can’t help but think myself lucky to have chosen a creative sector where such traditional prejudices no longer seem to exist. Basically every other aspect of work life has evolved so why are tattoos still reserved for sailors in some people’s minds?

With body art becoming increasingly socially acceptable, both in and out of the workplace, are people really risking their careers by getting the latest body decoration?

Graduates are constantly told how competitive the work place is and to show a bit of personality in interviews to set themselves apart. Does that translate to- take out all of your piercings and hide your tattoo for god’s sake? I am tempted to say no. I would perhaps question the judgement of someone with a profanity tattooed across their forehead or an offensive symbol but that’s not exactly the majority of people and I am pretty sure if you spoke to them for a few minutes the tattoo would be the least of your worries.

I don’t think people would really consider their body art or piercings as a fashion choice as such and therefore would they count as falling in line with a dress code? Tattoos and piercings are, in some cases, forms of self-expression and can be talking points. It’s fine to not like them, each to their own. But I don’t believe you could consider someone to be unfit for a job because of them.

The Telegraph reported that it is estimated that 1 in 3 young people have at least one tattoo and they’re becoming more popular. Here’s hoping that discrimination towards body modification dies out as the new workforce moves up. But in the meantime, I’ll be keeping mine on show and if someone could just tell me what to wear to interviews (or give me an interview) that would be grand.

 

Not so guilty pleasures

The Danes got a lot of things right as far as I am concerned. Danish pastries have to be the undisputed greatest breakfast creation of all time (apart from coffee obviously). All Scandinavian men and women are effortlessly cool and completely beautiful (an unbiased fact). And lastly, I am aware I am so late to the party but this week I discovered Hygge (pronounced hooghae).

In a week where the RFU cut the professional women’s contracts, Donald Trump announced that he would ban transgender soldiers from the US military and Charlie Guards parents enter their last court appeal for their baby to spend his last days at home, twitter has been a pretty dark place. It was the late discovery of Hygge that saved me from falling down the never ending rabbit hole of the 24/7 news cycle.

Defined as a Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”, Hygge is seen as a key aspect of Danish culture. It is basically finding joy and pleasure in the very small things.

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Actually leaving the twitter/ my laptop/ the house in general

Initially I wrote it off as some hippy dippy, Instagram solution to feeling stressed out. However, I wrote a few months ago about how I struggle to maintain balance when I am going through down times. I know personally, I can really lose sight of any sort of perspective regarding stress and anxiety when I am faced with a twenty point to-do list, £10 to my name and very imminent deadlines.

Once you get past the images of hands cradling a mug, candles lit at dusk on a picnic table, bikes with woven baskets and child safety seats leaning against a colourful brick wall, Hygge, as a philosophy, does make a lot of sense. Going outside and looking after yourself (inside and out). Taking time out to do the small things you like doing just for yourself- be that reading before you go to sleep with a cup of tea or getting up earlier to have quiet time.

Obviously #Hygge does appeal to me because I’m basic and looking at pictures of artisan coffee and old bookshops is my jam but we so rarely get a chance to sit, in total and complete silence and either do nothing or take the time to do something we love, uninterrupted.

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Any other excuse to go for coffee

Everything is so none stop now and we’re all so busy that doing small things we enjoy becomes a source of guilt. If you know you are a nicer person if you have a cup of coffee and some time away from twitter before you get out of bed *cough* me *cough* then do it and don’t feel guilty about it. At the end of the day, it will still be there when you’re done.

I would just like to add that Twitter was not a completely horrendous place. Rihanna met President Macron and the First Lady to chat about girl’s education around the globe. Love Island finished and the tweets between Kem and Chris were everything we could ever hope for and more. If someone wants to commission their own series I am there for it. And last but by no means least President Justin Trudeau is the cover star for Rolling Stone…be still my beating heart!

 

 

 

A week on Twitter: Morris, Murray and privilege

Privilege is a funny thing and not something I really think about all that often (probably because I’m privileged enough not to have to). However, having done three years of a social science undergrad I have read more papers and written more essays on gender, class, race and sexual privilege than I care to even dwell on.

And every so often something happens which makes the hierarchy of privilege so painfully obvious that it is difficult not to think about it. This week has been a interesting one.

I have been on placement all week which has had me doing a whole range of things, namely getting up at 6 (vom), enduring the busy commute and then looking for stories. All of these activities bar getting up in the middle of the night (because 6 basically is the middle of the night) generally features twitter.

I do love twitter. I love that it’s quick, newsy but opinionated. When the news broke this week that tory MP, Anne Marie Morris was ordered to resign after using the ‘n’ word in a meeting (and absolutely rightly so) I was (already) angrily scrolling through my feed on the train.

It threw up a lot of questions, primarily, what the hell? Why was that saying in her head? What age are we living in? Is this real life?Colin-Farrell-WTF.gif

Her complete ignorance to how it had caused offence got me thinking about how people often don’t think something is an issue if it isn’t happening to them. They say ignorance is bliss. I can 100% guarantee Morris has never had her whiteness called into question. Her race is probably something she doesn’t even think about. But come on. I couldn’t believe there were debates going on as to whether her resignation was an overreaction.

Twitter wasn’t a complete annoyance though. It also provided me with the gem that is the video of Andy Murray correcting a journalist after his loss at Wimbledon. If you haven’t seen the video, where have you been and I very strongly recommend it. As a journalist makes the statement that “Sam is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009” Murray very smoothly interjects and says “Male Player”. There is a lot of nervous laughter (from the journalist) and Murray continues to look completely disinterested.

I would have loved this interaction, however it had played out- if Murray had jumped up on the table, thrown a copy of the female eunuch at the journalist and ripped his top off to reveal a ‘females are the future’ top hiding underneath. But the reason it was so brilliant was that Murray corrected the journalist so casually, so naturally because he legitimately see’s the likes of Serena Williams, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki as his peers, his equals.giphy (5).gif

This is not performative feminism in any way shape or form. He’s not doing it to get in his wife’s good books or look like the ‘nice guy’. We have got good at putting up a front of being socially accepting and aware. Progressiveness is sexy. So many people were against Trumps Muslim ban, holding it up as a blatant injustice. Yet those same people get offended when being pulled up for saying “Oh but they’re not like other Muslims.” Millions of people will attend Pride across the world yet some of those people will not use the pronouns that trans men and women go by because “well they’re not really a man/woman are they?”

There are so many Andy Murray’s out there,  people who are genuinely socially aware. Who care not because it is going to get them 10 more followers but because it is the right thing. It’s just a shame that some of the people we voted into power don’t seem to feel the same way.

The Girls by Emma Cline

I don’t know if it is just me but I find that university completely kills my desire to read. I used to love reading- be that novels, non-fiction, biographies but when you have been in a library for ten hours, the last thing you want to do is pick up a book.

After not reading at all last year I made, what I thought would be a really easy resolution (as I am pretty anti-new year’s resolutions). I decided I wanted to read a bit more; maybe a book every one or two months. It is now July and I can finally say I finished a book, cover to cover, for the first time in a very long time.

The book in question was ‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline and oh my word! I cannot remember for the life of me where I first heard of Clines debut novel, whether it was recommended or I was just drawn in by the cover (I’m a sucker for a nice cover).File_000 (2).jpeg

From start to finish ‘The Girls’ completely broke my heart. It captured my imagination and by the end, well and truly blew my mind. If I am half the writer that Cline is in my lifetime I will be more than overjoyed.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The book is set in two different time periods, following Evie Boyd in the present day and 1960’s California. Disenfranchised by day to day life and estranged from her parents, Evie is lured into a cult by a charismatic leader, Russel and mysteriously beautiful member, Susanne. Mirroring the Manson cult, there is inevitably a bloody conclusion.

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The colour in Clines prose and the dreamlike way she describes the lost girls and the ranch they live on is sexy and intensely consuming. You won’t be able to put the book down. While Evie’s situation becomes very foreign to the majority of us, Cline describes the awkwardness of being 14, negotiating the adult world when you aren’t quite a child, so acutely it is like she is telling you exactly how you felt.

I have never come across a writer with such an amazing understanding of the human condition. If you haven’t read it, it is the perfect summer read!

 

 

Everything is about to change…

So, as it turns out when life gets busy, I seem to drop everything and turn into a lethargic mess, hence the lack of blog posts over the last couple of weeks (look at me sounding like a broken record).

I am writing this from what can only be described as a cave made out of my own ‘stuff’. Like so many other students, I moved out of my university flat this week (sob sob). Saying goodbye to my flat 9 babes came round far too quickly and took me completely by surprise.15043432_1196998870335579_8330948759835901952_n

If you have ever done the ceremonial move as a student you know the cleaning process that goes before it. So naturally, instead of getting an early night so we would feel fully refreshed for our day(s) of tidying and scrubbing we decided to demolish all of the alcohol left in the flat and go out one last time. Waste not want not.

After being faced with the sheer amount of crap that I have managed to accumulate over the last four years I packed up my life, cleaned my room only to anticipate my deposit being ripped away from me and drove home (the suspension on the car will never be the same again).

I hadn’t thought about unpacking the car again until I was sat on the sofa with a cup of tea, thighs burning from walking up and down the stairs, so I decided I deserved a break. A three day break actually.

After a fun long weekend of catching up with family, going out for food and bingeing love island from my bed, I am now finally forced to move back into my old bedroom. That or setting up camp in the middle of the room and hoping my parents wouldn’t notice that all of their suitcases are gone.pack.gif

This is the first time I won’t be going back to Sheffield (or any other educational establishment) in September in my entire life. I thought I would feel more euphoric about it than I do.

In reality, it is really bloody scary. I have to get a job now, something I so craftily avoided last year. I wrote a post about how I felt finishing my undergrad but this feels completely different. There is no way I want to stay at university but the uncertainty of ‘what next’ is killing me.

If you have followed my blog for a little while you’ll know I like a recap post– a post looking back on my year or three.

There is no doubt that this year has, perhaps been one of the hardest but most rewarding years of my life. I haven’t been able to see some of my main gals everyday which has sucked but I have also had some of the best opportunities and made friends I know I will have for life.

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I won’t miss living in student halls, although my house does feel deafeningly quiet and the prospect of not seeing out hangovers over pizza and crap TV is a little bit heart breaking. But after 4 years of being a student I can (almost) say it is over.

Now I can either go and find myself in Asia or start a vicious cycle of underpaid internships for the next ten years of my life. The options are endless…

How important is Wonder Woman?

I’m not a fan of crying at films in my own home, let alone the cinema. Whilst some people can be moved and shed a tear or two, I go from calm and collected to full ‘Kim Kardashian when she lost her earring in the ocean’. It’s not ideal. But this weekend I saw Wonder Woman…all I can say is if you haven’t already seen it, go now!

Obviously I loved it *shock*. Being innately curious I checked twitter before going into the cinema which resulted in me reading about five feminist takedowns of the film before it had even started. I was sceptical. If she was the goddess to end all war, why did she have to fight in something that looked like it was from agent provocateur? I soon forgot all of the criticisms though.

This wasn’t a guilty pleasure watch- a film I would put on if I was really in the mood to fight the patriarchy (which is good because I already have too many of those). This was a genuinely good film which I absolutely adored.

For the first time in as long as I can remember I sat there and escaped. It became so clear to me why boys love these movies. This was a story of action, strength and adventure- the things that little boys live and breathe through Hollywood. In an industry and society that is so good at telling white, straight, cis male stories it was a little bit overwhelming to see a women be at the centre of her own.ww.jpg

It almost became irrelevant what Gal Gadot was wearing or the fact that her sexuality was blatantly hinted at throughout. If anything the film did so well in highlighting the ways women are disempowered both in film and life. Yes, Wonder Womens outfit isn’t the most conservative but so what? In reality that absolutely has nothing to do with the movie and if people want to sit and objectify and sexualise an action movie then all the power to them.

Gadot was not sexualised or objectified throughout. Her power did not come from her worth as a sexual being. Neither was she masculinised. The film made it abundantly clear that her power came from compassion. Yes, she is absolutely beautiful, intelligent and witty but that wasn’t what made her powerful.

It is so often the case that the bigger the budget, the safer directors and producers play it. It is easy to follow the disappointing habits of films gone by because you’ve spent a lot of money and you need to bring in audiences (don’t get me started on Suicide Squad). The courage of Wonder Woman as a film, it’s director Patty Jenkins and producers, is almost bigger than the movie itself.

This is the movie I wanted as a 9 year old girl and still needed age 22.

 

We are ready and we’ve brought t-shirts

Paris fashion week showcased it. Topshop and ASOS are all over it. Hell, you can even get a version of it in Primark if you look hard enough. I am of course talking about the feminist t-shirt. Whether you prefer a more subtle ‘girl gang’ graphic or ‘the future is female, they’re everywhere on the high street and all over your Instagram feed.

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The feminist tee isn’t a new phenomenon, however. The feminist icon Gloria Steinem sported a tee shirt back in 2004 with the words “I had an abortion” in a documentary. No More Page 3 used t-shirts in their campaign in 2013 withdemonstrators wearing them to parliament. Perhaps my favourite example of the feminist tee was when the Fawcett Society designed the ‘This is what a Feminist looks like’ t-shirt and none other than Ed Millibae and Nick Clegg wore them. Be still my beating heart.

There is no denying it, feminism became fashionable a couple of years ago and to call yourself a feminist isn’t really a radical stand point anymore. And why should it? As far as I understand it feminism is the advocacy of economic, social and political equality of the sexes. Simple as. Men, women, children- it is an all-inclusive term, anyone can be a feminist and we all stand to benefit.

 

But of course, as with any trend there has been massive backlash. The term ‘t-shirt feminism’ has been coined by those who deem this to be a superficial, attack on the cause. Viewing the trend as a frivolous, flaky attempt to make profit off the struggle of so many women all in the name of consumerism. And do you know what? I am about 100% sure Topshop aren’t putting the money they make off their ‘Girl Gang’ t-shirts back into women’s shelters. But there is something to be said about picking your battles.

This year I read Polly Vernon’s ‘Hot Feminist’. Without wanting to get embarrassing and fan girl-ish, Polly is the definition of goals (if you don’t know who she is, I implore you to look her up). One of the many things I took from it is that whatever you think you need to be, to be a ‘proper’ real feminist, you don’t. Shave or don’t shave, go to the gym and loose that weight if you want to, if you’re brave enough get your body waxed from shoulder to toe…

We are taught such backwards things from such a young age: that being funny negates sexiness and sexiness compromises feminism. So you can be hilarious and feel utterly shit about yourself but you can call yourself a feminist. Isn’t feminism about walking into a room of your best girlfriends and them all wolf whistling and giving you ridiculous compliments because you look great? What are friends for if not to be your biggest fans? When did it become a crime to put on a dress and look in the mirror and think “yes, today I look hot”?jenna.gif

I am not talking about dressing for men, but in this day and age when a naked pallet costs £45 any man who thinks it’s all for them is frankly delusional. I have been lucky enough to surround myself with beautiful, strong, intelligent women who push me every single day to be better. I firmly believe they will rule the world one day and can match any man you put in front of them. I also know they are going to look damn good doing it in the process.

Your outward appearance is absolutely an expression of you as a person. We use clothes, tattoos, piercings and the like to create an image of our inner selves. Isn’t accosting a woman for wearing a feminist slogan tee or crop top and heels just perpetuating horrendous patriarchal views of how women should dress?

When Trump is sat in the white house and Theresa May is about to get into bed with the DUP, we have a hell of a lot more to worry about than what each other are wearing. There is something to be said for empowered women empowering women. We could all do with being one big girl gang.