Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Gillette: The Best Men Can Be video

Gillette: The Best Men Can Be video

Is there even a good way to start writing a post like this without sounding like a millennial snowflake with a feminist agenda? Probably not. Do I care? Absolutely not huns.

Today, Gillette released a new video to support their campaign #TheBestMenCanBe. That tagline was created by the brand 30 years ago and they believe that now, that’s become a more aspirational statement. This is especially in light of the number of high profile men being exposed as having been violent towards women, both sexually and otherwise. (It turns out there was a whole other meaning behind ‘there’s nothing wrong with a little bump and grind’, wasn’t there R Kelly?).

I’ll be honest, men are getting a bad rep right now and I cannot stress enough that it’s not all men. It’s a lot of them, but it’s not all of them. That’s my caveat before I get an all caps reply in the comments about how I clearly just hate men. I don’t. I really don’t. In fact, I quite like men.

But the flipside of this is that whilst I know the men I’m surrounded by absolutely respect women, just last week I drove to my local post office at 5:30pm, saw that there were six teenage boys stood hanging around outside it and drove right on as I was too intimidated to park my car, get out and walk past them. Just because I know that the men in my life (friends, family, colleagues etc) are great guys, doesn’t mean that they all are.

A big issue is the number of men who because they personally can’t comprehend hurting a woman, don’t thing about what that threat feels like. Whilst they know that they’re not going to attack the woman they’re walk 10m behind on their way home, it doesn’t mean that she knows it too. Again, this is men getting a bad rep but at least it’s based on ignorance than malice? Is that a comfort? I don’t even know.

The campaign video by Gillette acknowledges and supports the #MeToo movement whereby women have spoken out about the sexual harassment they have been on the receiving end of (something every woman can relate to) and shows men calling out men on shit behaviour. Men setting an example to their children by telling them to be strong and showing them that bullying and fighting isn’t OK. Men stepping in and saying that bullying isn’t OK.

Sounds good, right?

Well, naturally there’s a whole Twittersphere of users with their anonymous profiles threatening to boycott P&G products for life (lol I would like to see you get through your entire life without a touch of dandruff and the need for Head and Shoulders, but OK hun, you go on your boycott) because they believe the message is ‘all men are dickheads’. This is despite the video repeatedly stating that it’s ‘not all men’ and it actively shows men being the best they can be by calling out and putting a stop to such behaviour. (They’re probably the same people who booted off about the vegan sausage roll that Greggs released, like that was life or death).

In fact, the responses slagging off the video are the reason why that video needs to exist. That’s the shitty, toxic behaviour that needs stamping out and it hurts my soul that I’m writing this, as a woman, knowing full well that anything I say on matter will fall on deaf ears to those who need to hear it.

We all know toxic males. The kind of guys who will have multiple ‘psycho exes’ and never appreciate that they’re the common denominator. The kind of guys who will claim they want equality but will still expect their relationship to conform to gender stereotypes and have a hissyfit if their girlfriend earns more than them.

They’re men who react to men. If women say it, they’re ‘nagging’. It’s sad, but true. But here, it’s men who can make a difference, who can change the rep they’re getting, by shouting louder than those who are booting off at a razor brand quite frankly, proving their point.

Be the man who will tell their friend they’re being a dick when they’re cheating on their girlfriend. Be the man who will step in when someone is bullying someone smaller than them. Who will ask their friend if they’re OK as fuck me, men just don’t chat about their feelings and that in itself is a wider issue. Be the man who will admit they made mistakes in past relationships rather than brand their ex a ‘psycho’ for simply calling them out on it. Be the man who points out to women that when they ask for their opinion on their body that it’s not really up to them to have an opinion.

If more guys were those guys, the Daily Mail would have less ammunition to kick off and Piers Morgan will be revealed as the true snowflake (and then he will hopefully melt and evaporate never to be seen again).

What did you think of the Gillette advert? Let me know in the comments as it would be great to see some positive vibes in between the trolls that a post like this will no doubt attract.


Saturday, 5 January 2019

Why ‘new year, new me’ isn’t such a bad thing

Why ‘new year, new me’ isn’t such a bad thing
museum gardens hospitium york

2019 seems to have started with a massive divide between those setting out to make changes and others posting motivational quotes on Instagram about how the media brainwashes us into thinking we’re not good enough but YOU DO YOU, YOU ARE ENOUGH etc etc etc.

I get it, I honestly do. (Please read on before typing anything ALL CAPS about how I’m not supporting people...).

Do I think that the media needs to pipe the fuck down and stop trying to sell us (quite literally) shitty detox teas when we’re all feeling a bit bloated after a Christmas carbfest? Absolutely.

Do I think that viral articles about Kelly Brook (allegedly, as I’m basing this on a Daily Mail article, so let’s take it with enough of the white stuff to satisfy Salt Bae) dropping two dress sizes because her boyfriend called her a balloon need to be deleted off the internet? Absolutely. (I also think she should have dropped the boyfriend rather than the dress sizes but that’s a whole other conversation).

But let’s not forget that a new year, to a lot of people, is a fresh start. It’s closing a door on what may have been a crap year. It’s a point of re-evaluation of where you are, where you want to be and most importantly, who you want to be. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

If it’s for the right reasons, change isn’t a bad thing, whatever month of the year it’s in.

I don’t think anyone should be told that they’re not enough, ever. And if you’re around people who tell you that you’re not enough (like Kelly Brook’s boyfriend, he’s a great example of a prime dickhead), they’re toxic and they’re not good enough to be around you.

You are the only person who should be deciding if there’s room for self-improvement.

And if you feel like you want to improve and want to use a new year as a kickstart for that, go for your fucking life, and if the people around you aren’t supportive of that, ditch them. As long as the changes you make will impact both your mental and physical health in a positive way, do it.

There are a lot of people out there telling the world that they nobody should feel the need to change, and that is great if you’re happy and healthy and content with your life. But for those who aren’t quite there yet, just because you’ve read a quote about self-acceptance on the internet doesn’t mean it will automatically ingrain itself into your mind and all your problems will be solved. The chances are, if you’re going into 2019 wanting to be a ‘new you’, you were thinking about it a fair while before you drunkenly declared it as the clock struck 12 on new years eve.

In a world which right now, is a bit of a shitstorm, take the new year as an opportunity to do you. You. Do. You. Whether that’s taking the same contented you from 2018 into 2019, or if it’s an improved (and happier) you because something has changed. Both are OK, honestly.


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

My goals for 2019

My goals for 2019
fashion illustration Leeds

Well, here we go again with the ‘new year, new me’ shit.

2018 was hands down, 100%, absolutely not me living my best life (I’d say it was me living my average at best life), so going into the new year, I’d like to see a little improvement. I want 2019 to be a generally better year, filled with better vibes. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by excellent people that I like to call my close friends and family, so it’s not like there are any dickheads holding me back – I have no excuses.

This year is the year I officially hit my late twenties as my 27th birthday is a mere 3 ½ months away (14th April in case anyone wants to send a card), and I’d like to be well on my way to living a happier life and being in a better place by then. Here are my 2019 goals for doing just that.

Do more fun stuff
Year in, year out, I make this resolution and here I am again. Having things to look forward to is important to me as it’s the mini-milestones that keep me going. So far I already have two concerts, two weddings and a trip to London planned but I’m hoping get a lot more fun things booked in. My version of ‘fun’ has changed a lot in the last few years and it’s more about quality time with my friends than big nights out, so you can expect more cups of tea than cocktails in 2019 from me.

Reduce my carbon footprint
I’m not particularly proud of my environmentally unsustainable lifestyle and I think there are definitely some small changes I can be making to save the trees/oceans/ozone layer. I want to build better habits by reusing a water bottle/hot drink cup when I’m out and about and also reduce food waste and plastic packaging. I’m lucky that my local supermarket is Morrisons and I can buy a lot of my fruit and veg loose in biodegradable bags, but I’m sure I can do more!

Get to my target at Slimming World
I have one hell of a long way to go to get to my Slimming World target but I'm ending the year with a loss of 1 stone 5lbs since starting at the end of October. I have a lot to lose (I find my target too embarrassing to share on here, sorry!), but if I keep at it, slowly and steadily, I should make it before the end of 2019. I’m already excited to go back to my group tomorrow for my first weigh in of the year and I know that I’ll be more motivated to stay on track now that I’ve made a list of new recipes to try.

Improve my confidence
2018 was an absolute killer for my self esteem, and it was largely down to my size (which too, is large). The run up to Christmas party season was somewhat dampened by only being able to shop in the plus size section and I don’t want to feel this stressed out about my appearance ever again! I know that I feel the most confident when I’m healthy, regularly exercising and when I’m in a good mental headspace, so those are the things I’m working on as I know that confidence will come with them.

Read more books
My to be read pile is quite frankly ridiculous! Towards the end of 2018, I really got into reading again and it reminded me how much I love it, so I want to pledge to do it more! I don’t want to commit to the 52 books in a year challenge, mainly as I don’t know where I’d store 52 new books, but if I get through one new book a month, I’ll be happy. I’m also very tempted to re-read the Harry Potter series as I haven’t read them in a couple of years but I’d need to buy a full new set of books as mine are falling apart.

Get a mortgage
Lol, hi adult life. 2019 is the year where I'm going to stop landing myself in financial ruin (though I'm sure somewhere, there are financial directors at New Look, ASOS and Revolucion de Cuba who have been rubbing their hands with glee in the last 12 months), and buy my sister out of our flat. We currently own it 50/50 but the next step is for me to buy her half as I'm fundamentally too lazy to move elsewhere (she wants to buy a house) and that means getting either a mortgage or a sugar daddy and I know which my mum is more likely to approve of. (Mortgage, in case you were questioning it).

So they’re my goals for 2019. What’s on your list? Let me know in the comments!


Monday, 31 December 2018

18 favourites from 2018

18 favourites from 2018
cosy club york at christmas

I thought about writing a monthly breakdown of my year and then realised that a) I was relying on what I posted on Instagram to remind me and b) it wasn’t that exciting. I’ll throw it out there now, 2018 was not my favourite year by a long way (I still think my last great year was 2014, sigh), but it had some good bits. Here are 18 of my favourite things from 2018.

1. I got a new tattoo. I decided that I wanted something to remember my dad by and my earliest memory of him is early one morning I was downstairs ‘helping’ him make his pack up for work and he explained to me that the north star was the shiniest one in the sky. The tattoo I got included the constellation that the north star is in and some of my favourite flowers. I absolutely love it.

2. A good year at work. I passed my probation back in January and this year I’ve spent two days being a peak social media manager with Facebook in London, done my first new business pitches and have spoken at an industry event. It’s been an absolute whirlwind but during the last few months I’ve definitely found a bit more of a work/life balance which I’m happy about.

3. My sister had an ACL reconstruction in her knee. I know it’s weird that this is a highlight as it has been a very difficult few months for her post-op, but I’m happy that she’s finally been able to have the operation and is now well on her way to recovery and I enjoyed looking after her whilst she was off work.

4. Two of my friends from home had babies this year. One is her first and the other is her second, and seeing two people I’ve known since we were kids being incredible mums makes my heart happy.

5. The World Cup. I’m not a football fan usually but this summer had the best vibe as we got far further than we ever expected in the World Cup. The love for Gareth Southgate, the increased sales in waistcoats, the standard response to everything being ‘it’s coming home’ really made summer 2018 one to remember.

6. I went all the way to London one afternoon just to have dinner with Haydy, Hayley and Kariss (and managed to drop by the Natural History Museum whilst I was down there).

7. A magical mystery day in Scarborough with Rachel and Caroline, which ended with the best GBT (garlic bread and tomato) in the world from Florios.

8. I made time for mental health breaks, whether it was a little midweek day off just to switch off or a walk around Roundhay Park.

9. I ate out a lot, which one of my favourite things to do in the world (and a lot of the time it was with my gal Kellie, which is an added bonus).

10. I went to my first festival! My mum took my sister and I to CarFest North as our Christmas present and though it rained a lot, we had a fun day out.

11. I saw Jurassic Park with a live orchestra which is a big tick on my bucketlist.

12. A blogger date day in Leeds where we ate donuts, went to the Christmas markets, visited the Royal Armouries and ate the best food ever from Slap and Pickle.

13. I worked with some incredible brands, with my favourites being Trinity Leeds, Pieminister and more recently Marks and Spencer.

14. I went to see Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Michael McIntyre, all of which were incredible nights.

15. There were also a lot of great nights out including two Otley Runs and my first time at Bongo’s Bingo.

16. I went ginger (albeit temporarily). I went full on Weasley back in September and absolutely loved it until I went back to the dark side for Christmas.

17. I spent Christmas, as always, with my mum and sister, we had a really lovely, relaxed time (and ate icecream on the beach on Christmas morning, of course).

18. I ended the year surrounded by the best friends and family a gal could ask for.

I really hope everyone reads this has a happy new year and I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has read my blog as your support means the world.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

How to get back to healthy habits after Christmas

How to get back to healthy habits after Christmas
christmas dinner flatlay

Twixmas. Chrimbo-limbo. Whatever you want to call that time between Christmas and New Year, there’s no denying that calories aren’t exactly at the forefront of anyone’s mind, are they? If you struggle with leading a healthy lifestyle for the other 51 weeks of the year, not letting the festive period kick you off a cliff into a downward spiral can be tricky. Here are my tips for getting back into healthier habits following the Christmas indulgence.

Don’t try to detox
Detoxing is absolute bullshit. Weightloss pills, laxative teas and juice diets are absolute bullshit and don’t work. At all. (Yes, the people selling them on Instagram are either lying or deluded). If you ‘needed’ to detox from all of the so-called toxins in your body, surely everyone who didn’t do it would be dead by now. But as it happens, we have a liver and two kidneys doing that job 365 days a year.

Do eat your five a day
If your diet has primarily consisted of leftover turkey in sandwiches and snacking on your selection box, the chances are you haven’t been nibbling your way through the fruitbowl. But adding some salad to your plate, reaching for a handful of grapes before reaching for a handful of celebrations isn’t a bad shout – the more you fill up on the healthy stuff, the less space there will be for chocolate, right?

Do a big food shop
When your fridge supplies of leftovers are beginning to dwindle, take the opportunity to refill it with a load of wholesome food that can be easily cooked and snacked on whilst you’re at home. If there’s food there to eat, you’ll be less inclined to order a takeaway or grab something when you’re out.

Socialise - but eat in not out
If you’re having a catch up with your friends and family over new year, why not offer to cook and have everyone over? It puts you in control of what everyone’s eating so you can tailor it to what you fancy, whatever you can cook that is low effort/looks impressive (fajitas is my go-to for this) and how healthy it is too.

Don’t do Veganuary to lose weight
Going vegan in January is a big thing and if you’re giving it a go because you want to save the pigs and chickens or y’know, the planet, fantastic. Good for you, strong effort. But being ‘vegan’ isn’t the same as being ‘healthy’. Of course, you can make a vegan diet incredibly healthy if you research it and try a whole load of new recipes to ensure your diet is balanced (and again, great shout if you do), but don’t automatically assume that vegans just eat vegetables and that will make you healthy. Vegans eat cake too!

Plan your drinks and then your hangovers
Pick your poison carefully and weigh up the pros and cons. Find the balance between the alcohol which will be the fewest calories vs the alcohol that will give you the best hangover. Clear spirits are your low calorie option, especially with diet mixers, but if you know you can do a full night on beer and the next day not feel so rough that you speed-dial Dominos, that’s a plus too. Always have food in which you can eat when you’re both drunk and hungover as it will stop you tapping up Deliveroo in your moment of need.

Go back to normal
It sounds stupid but carry on what you were doing before the festivities rather than trying to make a drastic change to your lifestyle will feel a lot more sustainable. If you went to the gym twice a week, go back to the gym twice a week, not every day. Eat the food you ate before, not a whole new diet.

How are you planning on getting back to normal in January? Let me know in the comments.


Friday, 28 December 2018

Reflecting on my 2018 goals

Reflecting on my 2018 goals
bauble on tree

Every year, I like to write a list of resolutions as, if anything, it makes me feel accountable for what I’d like to achieve. In work terms, it’s like setting my life objectives where halfway through the year I have a review of the first two quarters and then in December, it’s an annual appraisal and re-setting my objectives for the next year. Yep, I need a holiday, don’t I? That being said, having clear goals for the year is really important as otherwise it’s so easy for time to slip by. Addressing it by laying down what you want to achieve then working out why it has or hasn’t happened means you can assess. Change of priorities? Fine. Didn’t invest enough time into the things that make you happy? Not fine, needs to change. See what I mean? Here is how I got on with my 2018 goals.

Do more fun stuff
This is a resolution that seems to have come full circle a bit during 2018 as I feel like I spent a lot of the first half of 2018 going out and then I just seemed to get it out of my system when I realised that weekends are too short to have a two day hangover (the perks of being 26). My version of ‘doing fun stuff’ is now a bit more low key and sober but I’m still happy with that as it means that when I do out ‘out’ out, I enjoy it a lot more. This year I’ve definitely done a lot of fun things like going to concerts, meals out, blogger events but I’ve also done the things I find fun like having weekends of no plans where I read a new book from start to finish. I think I’ve got to the point of having balance between home-y plans and big plans which I’d like to continue into next year.

Improve my living space
Well, I can’t say this has been the most successful as I haven’t exactly done a Grand Designs on my little shoebox of a flat! I have however kept a plant alive for a good month or too so that’s something, right?! My flat definitely feels more like it’s mine now that I have a whole load of prints up on the wall (Desenio and Fy are my go-to, plus IKEA/Wilkos frames), as the canvases that came with my flat were dull af, but other than those, I haven’t made any big changes to my living room/kitchen. My bedroom levelled up when I got those marble tables from Aldi and a lot of decluttering has made the space more aesthetically pleasing too. I’m happy enough with where my flat is as until I can afford a lot of new furniture (LOL), it’s not going to get much better.

Own my style
I think that whilst I’m still feeling the super-casual, safe dressing vibe, I’ve become a bit more ‘you do you’. I’ve taken a couple of baby steps out of my comfort zone, (apparently 2018 was the year I embraced the colour yellow?!) but significant weight gain has left me wanting to blend in a bit. That being said, since I’ve started Slimming World, I’ve felt that confidence I once had creeping back in and there are some style staples I’d like to purchase in the new year. I know where I want to be by this time next year, so I’m looking forward to that!

Share the love more
Kindness goes a long way, as do coffees for homeless people (if you’re on O2 and don’t get the free Caffe Nero hot drink on a Tuesday, trust me, there will be someone in need who wants it). I’m trying to get into better habits of doing little things like sending cards and I still have a blood donation booked for the end of 2018 too so I’m half way there, but as always, the love can always be shared a little further.

Learn more professionally
2018 has been another whirlwind year professionally and from it I’ve taken some great learnings. I’ve spoken at an event, pitched for new business, spent a couple of days with Facebook and worked on some really great client projects. Though it hasn’t been the step up that 2017 was, this year has been the year where I’ve become more comfortable working at a higher level whilst at a fast pace and (bar a few sleepless nights!) I’ve really enjoyed it.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that 2018 has been my best year as it’s been another emotional rollercoaster, and I’m definitely not ending it in a better headspace than when I started, but I’m really excited for everything I want to do and achieve in 2019. I’m not going down the ‘new year, new me’ vibe, but I think the last couple of months have seen positive changes in 2018 and they’re changes I’d like to carry through into the new year too.

How did you get on with your resolutions? Let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, 26 December 2018

A note on remembering what success looks like

A note on remembering what success looks like
corn exchange leeds at Christmas

I freaking love a new year’s resolution. I love that the weird inbetween time that falls in the middle of Christmas and new year where you don’t really know what day it is becomes a reflective period where you look back at the last 12 months and think about what you achieved, what you maybe fell short of achieving and what you want to do next. I think goal setting is great, and whilst I don’t think falling for the advertising that sells the ‘new year, new me’ wonder products should be celebrated, a kick up the arse towards self-improvement definitely should.

It’s at this time of year though that we spend a lot of time catching up, particularly with our peers. Our school friends, friends from our first jobs, friends from home, people who are our age. People who we might not see again until the next reunion in the local pub. And it’s at this time, where we whether we like it or not, find ourselves setting benchmarks of where we should be at in life. It’s where we compare and contrast to the people who we grew up being put against at school. From who was the most popular to who had the best grades and every other childhood comparison inbetween.

But when you’re in your twenties, it’s so important to remember that every single one of you and your friendship groups has gone down a different path. It’s been a long old time since you sat at the back of an A Level maths class wondering why the hell you took such a difficult subject when you could have taken something else (I can confirm that at no point in my fashion degree did I need to use any sort of equation).

Since leaving sixth form, I’ve got a degree, worked my way up to having manager in my job title in a relevant industry, moved to another city and bought a flat. One of my best friends took a year out, got a degree, spent a year in London, traveled the world, came back and has just had a gorgeous baby girl. Another of my friends left school, did an apprenticeship and now has a shitload of qualifications, a job she loves and no student debt. The three of us went to the same school, had the same part time job at Next and now we’re living entirely different lives.

There isn’t a benchmark of where you ‘should’ be in life. There isn’t a time limit, a deadline and most importantly, just because your friend has achieved something you haven’t, doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, it means they have succeeded. And their success has no direct impact on your life. It shouldn’t take away from your successes, nor should it highlight what you haven’t quite achieved.

Success isn’t defined by your job, your home, your income, your relationship status or your material possessions. It’s defined by your happiness. Your version of success isn’t the same as anyone else’s, so this Christmas when you’re sat around a table in the pub you spent your teenage years in, remember that what everyone else is doing isn’t a direct comparison to your life choices. It isn’t a GCSE and you haven’t all taken the same paper to be graded at the end.

Do you fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people? Let me know in the comments.

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