Monday, 31 December 2012

Here's to you, 2012

2012 has been a pretty great year for me. I handed in one beast of a dissertation, graduated from uni, took a trip to Paris and then holidayed in Spain, completed two weeks work experience at a publishing house in London and landed my first graduate job in social media. Obviously there have been low points of 2012 as well, but let's focus on the positives and look forward to 2013 :)

Here's a little selection of some photos from 2012 that I thought captured the spirit of the month. Enjoy!

And my New Year's resolution? Give blood! Eeep! If you have any words of wisdom/comfort on this then please let me know. I think my blood type is O negative so I really need to get donating!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

How to Write an English Essay

The other day I realised that this Christmas will be my first Christmas without juggling both a part-time job and essay writing and boy, does it feel good! No longer will I have to suffer the curse of the ‘post-Christmas Dinner guilt’ where I have 9,000 words to write in seven days when all I really want to do is slob on the sofa in a tacky Christmas jumper whilst gorging on countless selection boxes in all their tiny wrappings of multicoloured glory. Oh no, I am now free to watch Macaulay Culkin in his finest role for 90 minutes without feeling an ounce of essay-guilt.

So, as a gesture of goodwill (as is a custom of the season) I offer all the struggling students of this land the beloved gift of hindsight and the sage voice of experience. May I present to you, my dear reader, my guide on how to write an English essay…

1. First of all, do not begin the essay as soon as essay questions have been handed out. This will give you four weeks to plan, write and edit an essay, which we all know is too much time. Aim for three days (max) before an essay deadline for optimum productivity.

2. Choose the easiest question/one you have the most notes on/the books for the seminars you actually attended. Try and choose a comparison question so that you can spend 1,250 words talking about one book, 1,250 words talking about another, and 500 words drawing it all together in a loose conclusion, which ends with some grandiose statement about human experience etc.

3. Go to the library with the best intentions to start researching your chosen essay question, but spend most of the time refreshing Facebook. Spend a good hour cursing your organised peers who have taken out all of the books you will ever need, leaving you with a battered copy of some English theory book that still has a polytechnic stamp in the front cover from 1957.
Use old A-level essays as sources instead.

4. Spend at least one day productively procrastinating by making the most intricate and colour coded mind map of your essay. Something that would make your A-level English teacher weep with joy just to be in the presence of its staggering beauty.

5. Consider changing your essay question at least twice. Gain extra points if you attempt to write an essay on a book you have never read nor studied.

6. Make a trip to the library in a group. Monitor your friends’ progress and marvel at their ability to concentrate for longer than 10 minutes without mindlessly scrolling through Facebook/Twitter. Construct elaborate plots on how to sabotage your friends’ productivity. If you’re going down, they’re coming down with you.

7. Make sure everybody knows how much you’re suffering and that you’re in the library. Update everybody on your progress every hour. Make sure you include a word count.

8. Consider the various ways in which you could maim and/or injure yourself to receive an extension but not create any lasting damage.

9. Have a nervous breakdown at 5am the morning before the deadline in a state of Red Bull/ProPlus delirium. Reconsider every single decision you have ever made about your education since year 9, especially your decision to study English at university. Cry.

10. Forget how to create footnotes, so just type in 8pt at the bottom of each page.

11. Do everything you can to bump up the word count. MOAR QUOTES. Also be sure to reward yourself for every word count milestone – 50, 100, 500, 1,000…

12. As time goes by you care less and less about the grade and more about just finishing the goddamn thing. Your essay now bears a likeness to something your dog threw up after it ate all the sausage rolls rather than a well thought out academic essay. Submit it anyway.

approx 2 weeks later…

13. Tentatively open the email marked ‘Essay Feedback’. Read with disbelief that you received a First and quietly judge your tutor’s marking ability. Do a little jig of joy.

 Repeat ad infinitum.

Friday, 16 November 2012

A Real Hero

Yesterday I went to see College (David Grellier) perform followed by a screening of Drive at Gorilla in Manchester. I'd never been to Gorilla before and only recently heard about it, but it was really nice inside with its wood panelling and floor to ceiling windows. I think it's part of the Trof family and the prices definitely reflected that. We had a meal before the gig and my halloumi kebab came to £9.00. It was really tasty though and I would definitely recommend it if you're not on a tight budget. Mmmm.

Drive College

Although it was a seated performance because of the film screening, I did enjoy the set. Of course he saved 'A Real Hero' until the end. Some people decided to start dancing in the aisles at that point.

Drive College A Real Hero

Drive College A Real Hero

Even though I've seen Drive quite a few times (favourite film) it was still as mesmerizing and captivating as the first time. In fact, I think I fell in love with Ryan Gosling just that little bit more, if that's possible. I didn't see the appeal until I saw Drive, but I think that's partly to do with the character he portrays. I mean, who wouldn't want to date a broody muscly guy who's willing to smash a guy's head with his foot for you? That's my kinda guy.

The best part was probably when everybody cheered at the end. I won't go into too much detail about the plot etc. as there's many amazing reviews of it on the interwebz, but it's safe to say that you MUST WATCH THIS FILM.

It also reminded me to dig out the pencil drawing that I did of the Gosling after I became obsessed with the film and its soundtrack.

Drive Ryan Gosling

It was a labour of love. And reminds me that I should get sketching again.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Unconventional Fitness

When I was a kid I didn't have any problems with keeping fit and active. Dinnertimes were full of running around, and I couldn't wait to go outside and play with my friends. We were lucky enough to have bikes, scooters and roller blades. Staying in was BORING, playing out was THE BEST TIME EVER!

As with most people, once you get a bit older exercise becomes less spontaneous and more of a planned activity. Sure I played a bit of netball and rounders at school, but I was always eager to just get up and do something rather than sit in front of the TV. You didn't need to pay for someone to show you how to exercise when you were a kid, not really, you just went outside and played. For me, the best keep-fit class would be a massive game of delivo (apparently this a northern term for it, but it's basically hide and seek where you have to race people to a 'base'). A lot of fitness/outdoors activities for adults seem to emulate childhood playground games, like paintballing or assault courses or zombie runs, as their basic element is that it's fun to run around and play a game. But as an adult you've now got to pay for that privilege, otherwise it's just a bit weird...

I guess what I'm saying is that exercise has to be fun for you to enjoy it. Even better if you don't even see it as exercise, but as a fun activity that you enjoy. I don't believe in dragging yourself to the gym and hating every god. damn. step on that treadmill just so you can fit into smaller clothes. You end up hating it and feeling like a failure, which isn't good for anyone's self esteem. I understand that some people enjoy exercising solo, and that running alone provides them with some literal and metaphorical breathing space, but I only like to run when I'm being chased by a giant PTERODACTYL THAT HAS MASSIVE LAZER CANNONS ON ITS WINGS AND BREATHES FIRE AND WE HAVE TO RUN ACROSS A MASSIVE ROPE BRIDGE BUT IT MIGHT BREAK AT ANY MOMENT AND FALL TO OUR DEATHS. You get the idea...

What I've found works best is finding a team sport that you really enjoy doing. Something where you work to get better at something and learn new skills, rather than increasing reps at the gym. Sure there's some skill and effort involved in press ups and lunges, but it's not that fun and I personally find it really dull.

I used to do majorettes for about six years when I was a teenager (I'm such a northerner). And it was the combination of some epic routines with camaraderie that made every training session and every competition fun and enjoyable. It wasn't about the exercise - it was about winning the next competition and getting better at our routines. When you take the focus off weight-loss, staying active becomes so much easier.

(Circa 2002. I'm somewhere in this line...)

When I went to university, however, I seemed to forget my own advice. Exercise wasn't fun anymore. I joined the gym and went swimming twice a week like a real 'grown-up', but I inevitably got bored and gave up.

After graduating, I was on the hunt for something that combined exercise and having a pretty ace time. That's when I stumbled (appropriate choice of words) across roller derby. I've been training once a week for a few months now with the Rainy City Roller Girls in Oldham and I'm absolutely loving it. The sessions usually last two hours, and although I'm not skating constantly for those two hours, I feel like I'm getting a pretty good workout. What I also love about roller derby is that it seems to have adopted a mantra of 'health at any size', which is great. Roller derby girls come in all different shapes and sizes, but they can all kick your asses on the rink. Plus, you get to skate around and fall over, and have loads of fun and that's part of the game.

There's a great sense of community as well, as many of the established skaters help to train us newbies :)

I've only missed one session since I first started, and although Mondays come around quick, I always look forward to the next time I can skate. Falling over isn't a big deal any more and I feel much more confident and less meek and mild - even in general life! It's really great seeing myself improve at something as well. Hopefully the next time I write an update I'll have improved even more.

For me, exercise needs to be fun (have I said that enough in this post?) and it also needs to have a community surrounding it. It's not just about the actual exercise, it's about everything that comes along with it - the other players, the training sessions, the friendships and the bruises... Why do you think slimming groups see the highest success rates when it comes to weight loss? It's because everything's a lot easier and definitely much more fun when you're not slogging away on your own.

This post is my entry into the Where Are My Knees competition in association with

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Freshers' Flu Blues?

So Freshers Week is upon us once again, and for many of Manchester’s first year students this weeklong cycle of drinking, dancing and Popolino’s pizzas will give birth to numerous anecdotes: “Do you remember that time in Freshers when…?” But for some students however, Freshers’ Week, like many other highly anticipated social events (I’m looking at you New Year’s Eve) may fail to live up to such high expectations.

Before going to university you may have heard epic tales of drunken debauchery involving traffic cones and sprained ankles, but it’s very likely that no-one ever told you that at some point during your first week you will find yourself crying in the toilets of some club with a girl who you’ve just met over how you miss your friends from college and how great they are and how you only just broke up with your boyfriend because you’re going to uni and it just wasn’t going to work anymore. This. is. normal. And inevitable. Moving to a completely new city away from your parents and friends is hard, no matter how easy some people make it look. Think about it, when was the last time you had to create a whole new social circle from scratch? If you’ve carried the same friends through both primary and secondary school and then to sixth form, you’ve probably never been in this sort of situation before AND been away from home. Of course this can be the best thing about university, you can be whoever you want to be and ‘start again’ in a sense, but it can also be the worst thing about university and it’s something many people struggle with.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘everyone’s in the same boat’ one too many times from friends and relatives as you slowly pack away all of your belongings and say your goodbyes, but it is true, despite the fact that it may seem like everyone else is on the party boat whilst you look on from the shoreline. If it feels like you’re sat in your room watching iPlayer whilst everyone else is out enjoying themselves, then do something about it. Get involved: suggest going to the pub after a seminar, join a society, invite people round to your halls for DVDs, add people on Facebook. Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself and don’t suffer in silence.

If you’re finding it particularly hard to settle in to university life, then talk to someone. Most universities have great support systems in place for first years. Contact your personal tutor, or one of your seminar leaders. If you have a 2nd or 3rd year mentor, talk to them - they’re great at helping out with questions you might not want to talk to a tutor about. Your union should also be able to give you some help and advice. They most likely have a range of contact options available so check their website or read through all the pieces of paper you’ve been handed at Freshers Fair. You could also contact Nightline, which is a confidential listening service run by students for students if you don’t feel comfortable approaching anyone.

Your first few weeks at university can be amazing, but they can also be pretty overwhelming at times. The best thing to do is to realise this and accept it, and ask for help if you need it. Yes, you’ll miss the group of friends that you had at school, and yes, there’ll be times when you’ll wish that your flatmate would flush the toilet just this once, but despite all of this you’ll make some equally amazing uni friends and some equally amazing memories. With your own traffic cone to boot. 

(me and @jack_efc having an ace time in first year)
(yes, I shouldn't have dressed up as a geisha as it's part of Japanese culture and not a fancy dress costume, but I was a naive first year...)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Why every little girl should see Disney Pixar's Brave

Since Dreamworks' Shrek turned the classic fairytale model on its head in 2001, many films aimed at families have continued to rework old myths and legends in an attempt to update them for a modern audience. Disney Pixar's Brave does just that and Merida, the young princess of Clan DunBrock, is a far cry from the usual fairytale princesses of the Disney archives with her untamed ginger hair and immense archery skills.

Merida's mother, however, has more traditional views on how a princess should behave, and insists that Merida learns how to behave 'properly' and act 'like a lady' - a princess 'rises early', 'does nae stuff her gob' *nom nom nom* and 'doesn't place her weapons on the table'. It's a constant battle between how Merida's mother, Elinor, wants her daughter to act and how Merida actually presents herself to the world. Kind of like the old-fashioned version of someone telling you that you can't drink out of a pint glass because it's 'unladylike', or a bloke saying that women can't play football because it's a male sport, or that girls don't fart *parp*...

Instead of aimlessly wandering around the woods singing 'one day my prince will come' to a swarm of woodland animals who are transfixed by her beauty and do her every bidding (pick your Disney classic), Merida also decides to take charge of her fate and change it. Her life goal is not marriage. Hurrah! She fights for her own hand in marriage by beating all of her suitors in a game of archery. She quite literally breaks out of her constricting dress to do so however, which cleverly depicts how women's fashion and women's rights can, and have gone, hand in hand. You can't do much if you're forced to wear clothing which not only inhibits your every movement but also your breathing. The addition of a female director (Brenda Chapman) to Pixar's predominately male creative team has clearly had an effect and is definitely something that should have happened a long time ago.

Without revealing too much, the plot does not center around a romantic relationship, in fact there isn't even a hint of it when it comes to Merida, instead it's about the relationship between a mother and a daughter, which rivals that of the father-son relationship in Finding Nemo. One particular scene between Merida and Elinor towards the end is especially heart-rending, and will resonate with any girl or woman who has ever felt misunderstood or suffocated by their mother (or even any mother who has ever felt snubbed by their daughter). They go on a journey together and the customary Disney happy ending is not one in which Merida finally conforms to her mother's wishes, but that they eventually learn how to listen to each other's frustrations with a new found understanding of one another.

But just when you think that Pixar have successfully managed to create a story which both tackles gender stereotypes and maintains plenty of fanatsy, magic and humour, the marketing and merchandising team release this...

(source: @meanderingmthr)

Which yet again shows just how strong such gender roles remain for young girls. How about a toy bow and arrow set or something like that? No, instead we get makeup jewellery and a trinket box.


*all images copyright Disney Pixar yadda yadda...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Graduate Life For Me

After my work experience in London, I had lots of lovely things to look forward to: a holiday in Spain, graduation, the new Batman movie, and the arrival of my sister's baby. I told myself that once I'd got back from holiday and moved into my house the real job hunting would begin; I needed a break after uni to find my bearings, and whilst I'm lucky in some respects as I know exactly which career I'd like to get into, I still needed some time to really think about my next move.

Even though we've all been told countless times that unemployment is high, and that there just aren't enough jobs to go around, each graduate I'm sure still holds a secret hope that they'll be the lucky one. They'll be the one for whom all the three years of hard work will pay off, as someone, somewhere sees the potential within them and gives them that all important first job. If only they apply for enough positions, if only they keep at it, if only they have patience and persevere, then everything will all work out. After all, the teachers at school told us that if we worked hard and achieved high grades and went to university we'd get a good job - whatever that was, so that's what we did. But things haven't gone to plan.

So I'll keep filling in those job applications, and completing unpaid work experience, so that hopefully, some day soon (how about next week?) I'll be the lucky one.

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who has left a lovely comment on my 'woe is me' post. Just thought I'd let you know that I'm no longer unemployed :D I'm now working in social media and cursing 7am wake-up calls. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Moomin Valley

Yesterday I went to Covent Garden to have a mooch around the shops and I found the Moomin Shop. I'd been meaning to find out where it was all week, so it was really nice to just stumble across it. It's in the main market building and you have to climb some wooden stairs to get to it. There's even a few Moomin characters to see along the way. It was so cute inside as well with all the stuffed toys and wooden bookshelves. I used to watch The Moomins on TV before school and I remember reading some of the books when I was younger. I think my favourite character was Snufkin because it was always a big deal when he was back in town. I wanted to buy so much, but I limited myself to a tote bag and a card for Father's Day.

I had a look around the rest of the markets and then went to a fancy chocolatier for a present for my dad, where I was given a free truffle for myself (wahoo!) I also picked up a small present for my friend from a homeware-y type shop as she turns 22 next week. Then I picked up a dress from Oasis which may be my graduation dress, but I haven't decided yet. They were having a 20% off sale so that kind of persuaded me, but I'm still not 100% sure I'll keep it. I think it's a bit too summery and floaty and not tailored enough for a graduation dress, but we'll see.

THEN I WENT TO SEE THE LION KING AND IT WAS AMAZING AND I WAS ON THE FRONT ROW AND I ALMOST CRIED WHEN IT STARTED IT WAS THAT GOOD. Phew. So that was emotional. I'd managed to get tickets the night before from for £50 down from £65. It took me a while to find a site I trusted as I didn't want to get ripped off. This one was listed on the STAR (Secure Tickets from Authorised Retailers) website or something, so I knew I'd be ok. The performance was so amazing with all the puppetry and scenery, it really was a spectacle in the truest sense of the word. However, I think it's hard to separate the Disney film from the show when it's the same story and they share the same songs, so that you can't help but compare it all the way through. Apart from that it was amazing. Scar was suitably evil, and Mufasa was the great king we all know and love. I went home very happy.

Today I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts with my friend Harriet. It was nice to see her again and it was nice having some company whilst doing some more London sightseeing. There were so many piece of art to look at, it was just as amazing as it was overwhelming. It was lovely to see the work of new artists next to those who are well known in the art world. Most of the pieces were up for sale as well, so it was nice to be able to see which ones had been bought. Some people have quite a different taste to mine! We broke for lunch and went to Wagamama's where I had chicken katsu curry (standard). We nipped back in to look at the last few rooms (they don't normally let you in and out, but I think we charmed the guy on the desk) and then went to the gift shop where I bought Wreck This Journal, which is basically a journal that lists a different way to 'wreck' it on each page. One of the first few tasks is to break the spine of the book, and even that made me cringe! The whole idea is to stop being so scared of making mistakes and start being a bit more creative and experimental. It should be really fun.

Back to the grindstone tomorrow. Although I'm not really doing anything that taxing at the moment, I think it's just the idea of getting up early which makes me want to curl up in bed and never come out. Last week in London!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Life On The Strand

Well, getting up at half seven every morning is killing me. I'm kind of glad that it's only been a three day week, I don't think I could have lasted much longer. I did work full time for a while before I went to uni, but my hours were 12 - 7pm so I didn't really feel the pain of dragging myself out of bed at the crack of dawn every morning (well, sometimes it was painful).

My first day didn't start off too well as I went to the wrong reception desk and then the right reception took about half an hour to get in touch with someone from the office, as the person's name who I'd been given wasn't in that day. This made me extra nervous, and the receptionist kept asking me to spell my last name for her which got a bit tedious. Sometimes I hate having a weird last name just for that fact. People panic when they're presented with something a bit foreign and I can tell they're thinking 'OH GOD HOW DO I SPELL THAT?' Although I'd probably do the same in their position to be honest.

I finally got into the building (success!) and I was given a grand tour of the building (it's massive). I don't know how much I can say in terms of the stuff I've actually been doing, but it's been pretty interesting seeing how a book comes together and taking a look at all the different ways a work is publicised. The photocopier is now my best friend and I've probably contributed to deforestation in some way. Captain Planet would not be happy. Sorry nature.

My second and third days were a little easier because I know most of the team's names now and know where the main things are - post room, storage room, kitchen, free cakes and books room. You know, that sort of thing... *chomps on cake whilst leafing through War and Peace* Now I don't have to ask questions every two minutes, I feel like I'm actually contributing something rather than getting in the way. It must be a bit annoying having to show a new person every two weeks what to do. But it is free labour. Ha!

In terms of sightseeing and things like that, today I wandered around the London Eye and Parliament Square which was very pretty. Although the grandeur of the Houses of Parliament did made me a little bit angry, as it just made me think about all the posh Eton boys sat inside deciding which local library to shut next whilst rubbing their hands with glee. Urgh. I promptly rode the tube back to the flat afterwards.

Which reminds me that the tube is robbing me blind. Well, perhaps not blind, as every barrier I pass through kindly reminds me how much I have left on my oyster card. -10p people, -10p. I have no idea how I've managed to go into minus numbers. Is someone going to chase me down for 10p? I'm clearly living on the edge.

Tomorrow I'm going to sleep in (yay!) and then see if I can buy some last minute tickets to a theatre show somewhere. Mind have a wander down Covent Garden as well. Lovely stuff :)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

You sound like you're from Lanndannn

I'm here, I've made it to London for my two week work placement. Hurray! I'm not sure whether many people will be interested in my escapades down here, but I thought it would be nice to keep some sort of journal of my time in London. After all, 'what better way to share my private thoughts than to broadcast them on the internet'...

My placement doesn't start till Wednesday, but I wanted to avoid the bank holiday crowds so I booked my train for today (Sunday) which allows me some time to get my bearings. My train left at 14:55 and took just over two hours to get into London as it only had a few stops. I'd reserved a table seat but I'd forgotten just how awkward it is sitting straight across from a stranger when you can't help but look at them now and again because, you know, they're straight across from you and just THERE. And then there'd be times when she'd see me looking, and I'd think, 'Oh god, she thinks I'm crazy' and quickly look away, but then that probably made me look even madder. These are the socially awkward situations which I suffer through every day... But apart from that, everything was fine. Well, apart from the creepy guy across the aisle who kept staring at me, so that I had become part of a crazy staring circle thing, and nobody knew where to look and it was all very awkward and all so terribly British. I was also living in fear that the train conductor wasn't going to accept my ticket, because I'd cut up the card I'd used to buy them as it had expired. I'd sellotaped it back together just in case, but he didn't even ask to see it, thankfully. It did look quite pathetic.

Getting the tube wasn't too bad either, except that the Northern line has so many different branches I thought I was going to end up in the wrong place, and the underground still reminds me a little bit of the film Creep. Someone carried my suitcase up the stairs for me though, which was nice. I was too tired to care whether he was being sexist or not so I just thanked him at the top. It was probably more due to the fact that I got to the bottom of the stairs and groaned 'OH GOD' than anything else. Ha. My lovely friend was waiting for me at the gates to take me to her friend's flat where I shall be staying for the next two weeks, which is just a short walk from Archway. I dropped off my stuff, had a cup of tea, and then we headed down the road to a pub for some dinner. I think they were supposed to be having an outdoor Jubilee barbeque, but as it was raining there was no one outside and there was just one cold looking chef stood next to a barbeque under an umbrella. I felt quite sorry for him, poor guy! Apparently they usually have quite a large menu, but this time they had a special 'Jubilee Menu' which only had a few things on it. The portions were still massive though. We were both pretty tired after dinner so we just headed back to the flat.

I've unpacked a few things and now I'm going to settle down and watch The Apprentice final on iPlayer. Hurray for London! I think we're heading to Covent Garden tomorrow or something, but we shall see. I've only been here a grand total of three times so I'm sure there's plenty for me to see.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Paris in Pictures

I recently visited Paris with my boyfriend to celebrate our one year anniversary and had such a wonderful time. The weather was lovely and many of the sights were breathtaking, even if they did look a little surreal in person. It's strange when you see a famous monument up close after years of seeing them on postcards, it's almost like they're still just a picture. Anyhow, here are a couple of photos I snapped over the week. Photo heavy of course!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

'What Are You At Getting Terribly Fat?'

In the past few years there appears to have been an influx of television shows centred entirely around weight, or more precisely those who are overweight.  ITV's Fat Families and the British version of The Biggest Loser alongside MTV's I Used To Be Fat and Channel 4's Supersize vs Superskinny all seem to be saturating our TV listings. But do these shows actually promote health, or are they just fuelling the fire of our body obsessed society?

All of these shows present fat as being THE WORST THING A HUMAN BEING CAN BE. EVER. Forget being horrible, selfish, spiteful or manipulative, having a BMI over 30 trumps everything. The 'contestants', or those who take part in the various programs, are made to strip down to their underwear so that we can see for ourselves what a disgusting horrible mess they are. Their bodies are offered up for us to dissect, imperfection by imperfection. In Supersize vs Superskinny the participants are even encouraged to compare their bodies with their 'body-opposites' and comment on how different they are. It's all purely focused on appearance.

So how do they encourage people to change? By shaming them. Seemingly taking tactics from a playground bully - "Look at you, you're a big fat lazy waste of space and you're costing the NHS millions." If this kind of approach worked, then surely those who have already endured such taunts would now be at a healthy weight? Of course not. All it encourages is self-hate. It's hard to change yourself if you're constantly being told you're lazy piece of s**t, let alone if you start believing it on your own. While those who participate in such shows may achieve success in their weight loss goals, those who are on the other side of the TV screen may not share in their success and become disheartened as a result. Shows like The Biggest Loser have contestants shedding 10 pounds a week whereas 2-3 is the recommended healthy amount for weightloss.

All of these shows present the idea that fat immediately equals unhealthy. Apparently just by looking at someone you can tell (a) how much they eat (b) how much exercise they do, and (c) their entire medical history. Funny that. I'm sure everybody knows someone who never works out, eats lots of junk food but remains a 'normal' weight, or someone who does a lot of exercise but carries a bit more weight? You cannot tell just by looking at someone how healthy they are. All you can tell is what they look like. And by presenting people who are over-weight in such a way, people begin to think that they're allowed to comment on other people's bodies. In fact, it makes them damn right mad that other people do not conform to certain body ideals.

And if you're a fashion blogger, god help you if you don't fit these unattainable ideals. Victoria at VIPXO recently wrote a post about all the hate she's received as a result. Why do we feel the overwhelming need to impart our opinions on other people's bodies? Especially if they're ~shock horror~ happy with their body.

And if you think that Supersize vs Superskinny is doing some good by highlighting the dangers of eating disorders you'd be wrong. In fact many of the terms they use are still founded in old misconceptions. The narrator even stated that those suffering from an eating disorder could be 'snapped out of this behaviour' like it was something that could be fixed with one click of the fingers. The way they present such things is also potentially triggering to those who are already fighting an eating disorder, by completely ignoring media guidelines set out by the eating disorder charity Beat. The guidelines state that listing specific weights is unhelpful, listing amounts eaten may act as an encouragement to binge and purge, and showing images of emaciated bodies and body parts are also triggering. Check, check, check. Oh dear...

Whilst I do agree that some people who are overweight may suffer from weight-related illnesses, I do not believe that just by looking at someone you can tell how healthy they are. If it's not your body it's not your business.

If it's just a case of eating less and exercising more then why doesn't this work? The answer is it's just not as simple as that. Whilst some people may need to make some lifestyle changes I do not believe that body shaming is the way to go about this, what we need is body acceptance. And these shows are just not helping.

What are your opinions on such shows? Do you think that they are actually beneficial to those watching?

Friday, 2 March 2012

Ey up lass, how's tha doin'?

or Does An Accent Affect Your Job Prospects?

Geordie, Scouse, Mancunian, Yorkshire, Brummie, Mackem... In this green and pleasant land there are as many dialects as there are people drinking tea, yet the archetypal British accent is one which is posh, southern, and over pronounced. You'll find no sliding 'o's' or dropping 't's' on the 10 o'clock news, no thank you. So how does this effect the rest of us, if this accent is deemed the proper and correct one, is everything else incorrect and improper? Is it how you say it, not what you say, that really matters?

I have a Yorkshire accent. There I said it. But the strange thing is, I didn't realise I had an accent until I was in Year 8. In fact, I thought I was speaking the Queen's English, like my good friend Ryan Jarman here: (it should skip to the correct part)

In fact I don't think I realised that people spoke differently depending on where they were brought up. I watched Byker Grove and never thought anything of their 'cannaes' or their 'pets'. That was until the day my maths teacher pointed out the fact that we never say 'the', we say 'tuh'. Illusion = shattered. I was never the same again. (slight exaggeration)

But when you're young and the furthest you're allowed to venture out is the next town, you don't really face much prejudice based on your accent. You're all speaking the same language, as it were. It wasn't until I came to university that people thought the way I said 'coke' was hilarious, and would repeatedly parrot it back to me. There's a lot of baggage tied up with an accent - people instantly make assumptions about you without actually having to ask you any questions. You have X accent - so you're from X place - so you're like X and X. But of course it isn't a one size fits all formula. 

To escape this form of prejudice, I admittedly 'poshen up' in certain situations. I pronounce my 't's' and shorten my 'o's'. Perhaps this is what Cheryl Cole should have done? But by erasing my accent am I removing a part of my identity? When I'm with friends from school I slip back into a broad Northern accent, but when I'm in more of a professional situation I do tend to tweak it a little bit. Most of the time I don't even notice I'm doing it. It's really a case of fitting in and belonging to a certain group. Someone I know went to uni for three years and came back with not only a first class degree but a 'posh' accent to match, which meant that others in the group thought she was ashamed of who she was and where she came from. This is slightly understandable if the first Yorkshire person that comes to mind is someone from Take Me Out who wasn't known for her eloquence and wit...

So in the future will my accent effect my job prospects? I hope not. Not when we have two Geordie presenters as the most popular entertainment presenters, and another as the face of L'Oreal. There's always going to be jokes about accents and I've probably made a few of my own about other people's, but just because there's a correct way of speaking, doesn't mean that another way is necessarily wrong. Surely it would be a bit boring if we all spoke in the same way? It definitely adds some colour and diversity.

Have you ever faced any prejudices based on your accent? Would you ever change it? 

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