An open letter of thanks to the Daily Mail

This week I have ranted a lot, far more than usual. We’re not quite on the scale of the week after the American election but we are damn close. Aside from the fact that I am a twenty-two-year-old grandma living in student halls, I have had a deadline and minimal caffeine something else has topped it off.

Article 50 was signed. Now I am not going to dwell on this because even this wasn’t the biggest annoyance of my week. No no.

Dear Daily Mail,

This week you did what I thought would have been the unthinkable. You made me annoyed about something that wasn’t Article 50 being triggered. So well done, go you.

I just wanted to thank you for that, frankly, pathetic headline you produced this week about two of the most important women in politics meeting to discuss the future relationship between England and Scotland. You see, you proved people wrong. They may have previously thought that to be a paid journalist you have to have some sort of grasp on the written English language. But no.

You have proven time and time again that it is perfectly fine to make up words like, I don’t know, legs-it, just to get a ‘laugh’ because we are all laughing.

Obviously, when you objectify two politicians on the front of your newspaper it’s hilarious. Especially when you do it in such a way that you would never do to two men. People just need to lighten up, right?

I don’t think so. But what I will thank you for is, the next time that a woman stands up for herself and points out something unacceptable and they are shot down and told sexism no longer exists, they can use this. I know I will. The next time I sit around a table and am told by white, middle class males that we now live in a wonderful meritocratic society where everyone has an equal look in I’ll bring you up. Because for all the damage that you do printing BS like ‘that’ front page you are blatant proof that we still live in a society with a problem and there is so much progress to be made.

You went viral this week so you probably achieved your aims. Hell, I am writing a blog post about it where as I wouldn’t have usually even seen your front page if I could avoid it. So let’s be honest, you’ve probably achieved your goals, you sold lots of papers and everyone is talking about you.

But I thought I would I, like so many others this week, air my feelings and just say a little thank you.

Journalists are…

This year I have learnt a lot; how to write news effectively, what a good cover letter looks like and (most importantly) if free food is offered at an interview day, take it- take it all and make sure you have enough for dinner.

I love my course, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to go into journalism. I have met the best people and had more opportunities than I could have ever imagined. You speak to cool, sometimes slightly wacky people who have a story to tell and you get to be the first to hear it which is such a privilege.

However, I have also learnt that 9 times out of 10 if you tell people you’re a journalist they will scoff and say something along the lines of “why the hell do you want to do that? I hope you’re one of the good ones.” Now the socially acceptable response to this is laughing and sipping whatever drink you have to hand until the tension has passed.

If you search ‘journalists are’ into Google the first two suggestions that come up are ‘journalists are liars’ and ‘journalists are scum’…
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Don’t get me wrong I know some journalists are bad people. The profession has come under fire as being disingenuous and attractive to those who are morally corrupt. After Trump decided to coin anything he didn’t agree with as fake news, hostility towards journalists is at an all-time high.

People go into journalism for different reasons. Few do it for the money (because they’d be barking up the wrong tree) and some for fame. It attracts good people and bad people like any other profession does. But we all know a certain few journalists who use their platform to spread hateful views, tarnishing journalism as a whole.

I am not going to write out a list of why it is important but you only have to look at the work of the likes of Stacey Dooley, Nick Cohen, Laura Bates, Hadley Freeman, Giles Coren, Maureen Dowd and (my most beloved) Louis Theroux, to see that journalism, in all the forms that it takes, is so integral to giving a voice to those who might not have a platform and exposing issues across the globe.raw (1).gif

After the events this week in London, I have had a few conversations with people about the standards of ethics demonstrated by journalists reporting on the attack. Innumerable articles have flashed up on my twitter feed, people retweeting racist, Islamophobic articles placing the blame on all Muslims as a way to show how the media warps an event into fake, twisted news.

But for every hateful, fake, racist article there was so many more that explained what actually happened without pushing an agenda. Just as in any profession, the behaviour of a few would not tarnish the majority, journalism should be treated the same way.

I can say that I am blessed to call a proportion of the next generation of journalists my friends and they’re not bad, morally redundant people. They’re passionate about good writing, imparting a story and spreading news, great style and good food and culture. There are good and bad people in all walks of life and wanting to be journalist isn’t synonymous with being sly or a liar.15590574_1171929476195889_939706459142840612_n.jpg

 

Don’t Call Me Crazy

It’s around 9:45 on Tuesday morning and I am crying in Costa. Peak time for the yummy mummies and business-types to be grabbing a coffee before going about the rest of their day.

“Why the hell are you crying in such a public place?” I hear you ask and I wish I could tell you. But no, I am on the phone to my mum (because you’re never too old to have a bit of a cry to your mum), ‘Emotional Baggage’ tote bag in hand (the irony) and sobbing into a very mediocre cappuccino.

After the ever-comforting pep talk and offer to come and see me, my mum put the phone down and I decided to stop scaring passing children with my best impression of Kim Kardashians crying face. But as a fairly level headed person (most of the time) I found this all a bit irritating- what was going on? Why had I just spent the first forty five minutes of a perfectly good Tuesday crying about things that, in reality, weren’t a big deal at all?giphy (4)

And then I realised, this is exactly how I have been periodically over the last six months after I decided to go back on the pill. Completely unhelpfully this also closely coincides with when I started a Masters.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not completely knocking the pill. It is now the most common form of contraception used by young women aged 16-29, with 55% of women aged 20-25 claiming to be taking it currently. Taken correctly the pill is a very effective method of contraception.

Since its inception in 1960 it has been heralded as a key step in liberating women yet there has yet to be an equivalent hormonal contraceptive for men leaving the burden of responsibility to women.

We are bombarded with messages about the benefits of the pill and how it was such a monumental step towards women’s reproductive liberation. But it is by no means perfect.

A quick google will tell you that some of the advantages of the pill include: decreased acne and menstrual cramps, increased likelihood of regular periods and obviously it’s a very effective way of ensuring you don’t get pregnant. Yet the health risks associated with the pill were far more extensive: Weight gain or loss, spotting between periods, breast tenderness and/or growth, nausea or vomiting, depression, and decreased or increased sexual drive.

Last year, doctors came closer than they ever have before in trialling a male hormonal injection. They studied 260 men between the ages of 18- 45 in long term, consensual relationships.

Great, I hear you say. But the study was halted after 20 men stated they were experiencing ‘unbearable’ side effects including: severe change in mood, muscle pain, a heightened libido and acne. Sound familiar?giphy (2)

Now I am by no means stating these men should have put up with these side effects because, believe me I know, they’re not pleasant. But, it has taken 60 years of damage to women’s lives for scientists to conclusively look into whether there is a link between depression and female contraception.

Mental health should be an absolute priority, so whilst the medical professionals are looking into hormonal contraceptive solutions that make side effects less unpleasant for men, let’s hope the same level of effort is being focused on a side effect free solution for women too.

Girl Gangs of the world unite

On Wednesday 8th March it was International Women’s Day and the theme was #BeBoldForChange. The sentiment ‘Empowered women empower others’ resonates so much with me and it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate all of the beautiful woman in our lives as well as recognising the achievements of women across the globe.

It was a chance to recognise the courage it takes to be open and confident and stand for the social, economic and political basic human rights for all women irregardless of their race, sexuality, religion or economic background.tumblr_n3wqsyf0R71rlg5ujo1_500

However you celebrated it, if it all, it was difficult not to see anything posted about it on social media which got me thinking about all of the women in my life who inspire me…

From my favourite procrastination activity of sitting in my room pretending to be Adele (my rendition of Hello is quite something) to dancing round my bedroom aged 10 to Kelly Clarkson, music has always been a big source of empowerment for me. I would stand on my bed and scream the lyrics to Pink songs that I definitely didn’t understand because it made me feel strong. Later when I decided I was too cool for Kelly Clarkson (are you ever really too cool for Kelly Clarkson) Hayley Williams and Paramore allowed me to get out my teenage angst and seeing a girl at the front of a band that was in such a male dominated genre made me feel like I could do anything too.

Like I said, I like to procrastinate so YouTube is my thing. To be able to watch creators like Samantha Maria, Ingrid Nilsen and Jazzmyne Robbins whenever I need a bit of a pick me up is something I take so for granted but to see women be so unapologetically witty, intelligent, stylish and funny encourages me to be comfortable in my own skin. Seeing them bring it is a constant source of empowerment for me.  6f6d120a8ff802f2501c54d963333bb0

As many of you know I am studying journalism at the moment and so have a lot of writer crushes. Laura Bates, Hadley Freeman, Ruby Tandoh, Laurie Penny, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sophia Amoruso, Mindy Kaling, Sharon Hogan, Caitlin Moran and so many more move me with their words. One day I hope to even be half as successful, sassy and bold as these women. They pave a path for future female writers so the media might be a little bit more female friendly.

And of course the area of my life that I probably draw most inspiration is my personal life. I know I am bias but I am lucky to have the best mum in the world. You can ask around, Stella is the greatest. I will never underestimate how lucky I have been to have two loving parents who have supported me through every decisions and are now more like my best friends. I also seem to have surrounded myself with intelligent, funny, audacious friends who encourage and push me to be better, not to accept the bare minimum and not to text that fuck boy back. I know Taylor thinks she’s got the best Girl Gang but she hasn’t met mine. Their achievements show me that if you nurture talent and encourage strength anything can be achieved.

So, International Women’s Day may have been and gone but a conversation is now open. Why not celebrate the amazing things women have done every day? We will all be better off when we build each other up rather than silence or tear each other down.15826687_10211536797795923_8983275817689984835_n

 

Why putting naked people on TV might not be such a terrible thing…

Naked Attraction. The controversial show that left Channel 4 viewers (and a large proportion of the rest of the nation) aghast. If you haven’t heard of it, where have you been?

The basic premise of the show is Anna Richardson (the fabulous woman that she is) introduces a guest who is confronted by 6 booths with 6 naked individuals in. The naked date prospects are then revealed gradually from toe to head until the guest has narrowed it down to 2 when they then have to get their kit off and pick their favourite. Then they go off on a date and when there is a catch up three weeks later they elude to the fact that they drank way too much and probably had sex and then one hasn’t text the other back.

Now, I know, I am so late to the party and you’ll have to excuse my massively convoluted and long-winded description (its better just to see it with your own eyes) but this has kind of revolutionised my procrastination.

Prior to watching it I had written it off as embarrassing and a bit grim- I wondered who would be so brave as to stand naked and be judged on national television by someone in a studio and all of the viewers at home? But after watching an episode (or five) my opinion has completely changed.

Whilst the show is still sort of cringy and at times massively uncomfortable, I got way more out of it than just laughing when the guys got awkward boners (although that is a pretty great aspect of the show).raw

As someone who has struggled with their image, like so many other people, men and women, this show was a breath of fresh air which couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s no news that we are constantly bombarded with pictures of what the ideal body looks like. I only need to scroll down my Instagram explore feed to work myself up into a frenzy.

It is not surprising that the Heart of Leadership Foundation found that 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school and relationships and 80% of children who are 10 years old are afraid of being fat.

‘Alternative’ or varied body types are now so celebrated across the media yet small is still somehow synonymous with happy, successful and sexy. And I am not discrediting the fact that there are so many people out there making waves to change this. You only need to look at the success of Ashley Graham, Naomi Shimada and Olivia Campbell to know that so many women are getting the recognition that they so duly deserve. I mean, look at them…

The show was something different though. Ashley Graham has been heralded as the first plus size model to be a cover girl for Vogue. Yet picking up a copy of Vogue and seeing all of the images of Ashley looking insanely beautiful and turning on the TV to see a line of normal women’s bodies feels completely different.

Maybe, it’s that I don’t have open and honest discussions with enough of my friends about what we consider to be ‘normal’ or attractive that has led to this revelation. But the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report found that only 20% of women in Britain feel truly confident in their bodies. We are so cagey about what is ‘normal’ and what is desirable that maybe we just don’t want to talk about what we have got in case we are the only ones.

Seeing so many women on the show; a full representation of ‘normal’ women almost gave me the sense of ‘me too’. Some of the women looked similar to me, yet others looked completely different, but they were all women and they were all so courageous and attractive. What became abundantly clear was the women who held themselves in the strongest stance and were proud of what they had were actually the most physically attractive too-regardless of whether they could pass as a Victoria secrets model.

So I have decided that it might be time to stop trying to fit someone else’s ideal and let myself off the hook a little bit. I am not saying I am about to completely let myself go (although if uni gets any more stressful I’m not sure I will have a choice) but maybe I will just be a bit kinder to myself.

The only good thing about exam period and a caffeine addiction…

I am in love. It happened about three weeks ago now and I may be going out on a limb here but I think this is it- me done. Married off, ready for the three kids and a dog (5 dogs, let’s be real). I will be sure to let you all know when the wedding date is as I am sure that the proposal will be coming any day now.

I just can’t put into words all of the things she has done for me. She has brought me coffee when I needed it the most, asked me about my clothing choices and even briefly proofread an article I wrote. I am of course talking about the barista at my new favourite coffee shop who knows little more about me than my name and coffee order, that I have to periodically call home to tell my parents that I have made a grave mistake and can no longer deal with the stress that my MA brings or that I wear the same green jumper a little too often. But what more does she need to know? Coffee and that jumper are my basically my life (what a sad little life I lead).

Anyone who has survived any exam period, written a dissertation or shares my unhealthy obsession for coffee knows that you have got to get yourself a library boyfriend or a barista bae. It is the only way you will get through. Whenever I go to the library for a long session, 80% of the time is spent arguing with friends over who gets the hottest library boyfriend that day or deliberating whether today is the day that you actually make contact.When-Someone-Wants-Do-Late-Dinner-You-Pretend-Dead.gif

But then the bubble will be burst. They’re no longer a distraction and suddenly become a real person. You know people say, you shouldn’t meet your heroes? Well I feel like the same rule applies. That is until a couple of days ago.

So I am sat doing some magazine research, looking at dogs on Instagram and contemplating when to call my mum to tell her I’m on the edge again when coffee bae wandered over. “What are you writing there?” She asked, picking up the empty coffee cups I has accumulated over the morning.  “Oh, just a writing thing”-it is my natural ability for small talk that lets me know I will get far in life…or not. “Oh cool, your jumper is from Topshop isn’t it? I saw you in it last time you were in and I think I have the same one” Oh god why is she prolonging my pain? “Yea…Topshop…” If she isn’t wooed by that I don’t know…She laughed and asked if I wanted a flat white which I took too long to answer before nodding my head, my cheeks were the colour of beetroot and I resigned myself to the fact that I should probably never leave the flat again. Next time my parents ask why I am single, I will reference this interaction.giphy (1).gif

So, the conversation was hardly ground breaking and I don’t foresee us skipping off into the sunset together but now contact has been made where do we go from here? Next time I come in am I more chatty than usual? Will she think that’s too forward? Or should I even return at all after that shit show that was supposed to be flirting? She has moved beyond the realm of fictitious ‘library boyfriends and barista girlfriends’ to become an actual person who I could talk to. For some socially capable people this would probably be seen as a good thing, progress even.

But no…I think I preferred it when I hadn’t informed her that the blog post I was writing was ‘a writing thing’ and I didn’t know that she had realised that I wear that jumper as much as I do. I have gone into full self-sabotage mode- it might be time to find a new place to get coffee. The love affair may be over.

 

 

What SHOULD I be doing with my life?

I’m in bed…it’s 10 o’clock and I’m in bed. The worst thing is I am actually tired, I could fall asleep right now and be happy. But no, I am being shamed, by myself that is. I am flicking through Netflix looking at all of the shitty American sitcoms that I haven’t seen but will inevitably binge watch at some point in the near future. My book, which is currently being used as a coaster is glaring at me- judging (well, if a book could stare…you know what I mean).

I haven’t gone mad (I don’t think) and I know books don’t have the capabilities to see or pass judgement but I still feel shameful. Like I should be reading a political commentary or a long complex novel instead of re-watching a series that I only finished a couple of weeks ago (if you haven’t seen Easy yet it’s on Netflix and it’s amazing). Why is it that some pass times are seen as respectable or acceptable and others are seen as vapid? I know in some cases that some activities are wholly pointless. I am the queen of reality television after all and I’m talking about the really rubbish stuff.

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I had never really thought about the pressure we put on ourselves to spend our free time in a meaningful way until I had an argument earlier this week. Sat on the train home I was scrolling aimlessly through twitter (another one of my preferred pass times). It was my first week back after a very long Christmas break, I was shattered and just needed a bit of me time to not think about life admin, emails or deadlines.

This just so happened to be the day that Queen B announced she was having twins. I was tweeting, messaging, wriggling ferociously in excitement. That’s when the guy opposite me asked what was up. He was sort of attractive and reading the Guardian comment section so obviously I immediately planned our wedding and went shy.

I admitted that I was so excited because of the Beyoncé news and he sort of scoffed at me. That is when I knew the engagement would have to be called off- I cannot love anyone who has not accepted Beyoncé into their life. After a moment of silence I asked what was so funny and he turned and said “It’s just so vapid and sad that there is so much going on in the world, terrible things and people find excitement in a random women having children.”

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Wow, so did I miss that newsflash? Are we no longer allowed to be happy or interested in anything considered low brow by a twenty something year old, hipster on a train between Manchester and Liverpool?

The worst thing is I slightly agreed with him. Yes there are so many important things happening in the world, both good and bad; the women’s march, Trumps government losing the appeal over the travel ban, increased political discussion and representation of voices. But they don’t discredit the little pleasures like the 6 Nations starting or Beyoncé having twins.

We put so much pressure on ourselves- be it at work or uni or at home. We don’t need to bring this stress and competition into our private life as well. It’s so incredibly important to be aware of what is going on but watching the news 24/7 would get pretty bloody depressing. You should allow yourself a few guilty pleasures, I know I am going to. Now, I will go back to scrolling through images of famous instagram cats and speculating what the Queen will call her offspring.