Saturday, 26 April 2014

this was going to be a youtube comment

this is SO LATE to the game, but the 'behind the scenes' video came out earlier today and i wanted to write something about the song 'pretty hurts' and its video. 

people have been saying that the message of this song and the music video are not justified because beyonce is obviously a gorgeous person, but it goes deeper than that. it picks out:

1. the way the 'pretty' girls of the video, and by proxy, of our image-obsessed society, are desperate to prove their worth solely through their beauty, and will go to extreme lengths to do this. 

2. the fact that the looks of girls  are pitted against one another from a young age, although not explicitly. we constantly see images of beauty being the one source of validity for females. chimamanda ngozi adichie has mentioned before, and is sampled as saying in beyonce's 'flawless', that competition can be good for girls. this is in conjunction with our careers, our sporting, scientific, academic, artistic achievements. however, this should not be applied to something as superficial as our appearance.

3. it also points out the narrow definition of pretty, body-wise. the video does feature a mix of ethnicities, but what is focused on is the little leeway that is given for body shape and size. even the beyonce of the video, with her curves, tiny waist, and muscle tone, is trussed up in measuring tape, botoxed, and works out diligently to maintain the perfect weight. the pageant, a microcosm of the real world, only has places for tall, skinny-but-not-too-skinny, smiling girls.

the crux of the video and the song (i've been obsessing over the clip a little too much) is not only about the injustice of beauty norms, but also how smashing these is empowering. beyonce literally does it, destroying the pageant trophies that directly reference her past as a young pageant queen, and the video emphasises that this will allow what is truly important, 'to be happy', presumably without concerns about your weight or facial features.

going back to my earlier point that people have criticised beyonce for the seemingly hypocritical point of the song ('how can she say it hurts when she's so beautiful?'), we cannot dictate what beyonce's relationship with her body is. we do not live inside her head, and therefore cannot say that this song is a non-constructive statement. what 'pretty hurts' does do, however, is examine in depth the expectations pertaining to the appearance of young women and their limiting force.

(ps i rly like beyonce's wire rabbit ears they are SO CUTE that whole outfit is generally my fave)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

a word on halo jones

'Where did she go? Out. What did she do? Everything.'*

    When I was little, my family and I would go and stay at my parents’ friends’ house in a small village in the heart of the English countryside. They were the cookie-cutter cool and hip couple, with two elderly cats, an authentic 1970s set of egg chairs (the ones from Men in Black, you know?), and a house that was a mix of rustic Victorian architecture and distressed modern. They were also big fans of comic books, with Edward Gorey volumes stacked up in the toilet. It was through the visits to their house that I first met Halo. She was on the wall of the spare bedroom, immortalised on black paper in white pencil, and signed by the artist (!), measuring in at A2 paper standards. At the time, she was possibly one of the creepiest things I could have looking at me when I was trying to get to sleep.  I had no idea who she was and why these weird people had a poster of her on their wall.
     It wasn’t until I read the first book of Halo Jones that I finally understood. The first copy of The Ballad of Halo Jones was published in 1984 by British comic house 2000 AD, and the story was written by Alan Moore (of Watchmen fame) and illustrated by Ian Gibson. From the first page of Halo Jones, depicted in erratic strokes of ink, it is obvious what the theme of the series is- escape. I could see why my parents’ friend liked her, in their rural family home. The attraction of Halo is that she is an ordinary girl- only eighteen when the story begins- who is stuck in a rut on an impoverished space colony called the Hoop. There is no convoluted backstory about her being the destined queen of an ancient civilisation, or a gun-toting, wise-cracking ‘strong female character’ (although those can be good, if done well). In the beginning, she simply lives in a flat with her best friend Rodice, her guardian Brinna, and Brinna’s robot dog, Toby. I have not read any other pieces of Alan Moore’s work, and therefore cannot judge for myself if it is really problematic, but what he manages to create with Halo Jones is a female character that is emotional, believable, and who changes her life completely after a personal tragedy by taking initiative and escaping the mundane world she lives in.
     Halo Jones is a comic strip that focuses on females, but does not fall into the same old trap of pitting women against each other, specifically over the attention of a man. What we get instead are close relationships between women (namely between Halo and Rodice, and later between Halo and Toy Molto) that even have potential to become something more romantic, even though it is tragic when moments like these comes around. There is even an appearance of character that could be seen as genderqueer: the Glyph, who ultimately saves Halo’s life and identifies as neither a man or a woman, having swapped so many times before they cannot remember. Halo’s character design is typically attractive, but she is not over-sexualised, and neither are her relationships with her female friends, which are more poignant than anything else. To keep on with the theme of character design, tumblr has recently been afire with fans of cartoons (rightly) complaining about the fact certain animators find it ‘too hard’ to add diversity in body types in their female characters, even when there are animated films with huge casts of men that all vary hugely in appearance. In Halo Jones, we are introduced to Toy Molto, the towering, muscled hostess on board the space ship Clara Pandy, the rough and ready members of the all-female battalion that Halo joins, the old woman indigenous to the planet Moab who refuses to leave it until her cause is won.
     You can see why I was sort of obsessed with it. You know that one kid who has discovered one thing, and suddenly wants everyone to know about it too? Yeah, that kid was me.  To me, Halo Jones symbolised freedom, the power of initiative, and also the power of normal people. Halo is bored and unhappy, and decides to do something about it. She does not experience a perfect life after leaving the Hoop- far from it. She is attacked, becomes the aggressor, has a period in which she shaves all of her hair off and gets drunk a lot, but she comes out of it wiser, and in ownership of her own destiny (not like that, Britney). The Ballad of Halo Jones only occupies three books, but for that I am glad (apparently they were going to have a fourth book in which she became some sort of slave and tbh I don’t think I could deal with that) (also Ian Gibson started selling a topless print of her, which apparently was part of an idea for a further story. Don’t defile my heroine, Gibson ), especially since the end of the third book is so open-ended. I won’t spoil it in case you decide to read it.
     So here’s to Halo Jones, heroine of my blossoming teenage years, and oft over looked spacewoman. In a way, Halo Jones’ lack of celebrity in the world of sci-fi comics is rather fitting- at the beginning of book two, she is quoted as saying ‘Anyone could have done it’ when speaking about her adventures. And that is the true message of Halo Jones, and more specifically, for her female readers. Halo is not extraordinary. Halo is a normal woman you could meet on a normal street in a normal town. If Halo Jones can escape a life that does not fit her, so can you.

*tagline for The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson

song of the day: something that might fit well in the soundtrack of a film adaptation of halo jones

Monday, 14 April 2014

new leaf

this post does not focus on the wonderful nintendo game animal crossing: new leaf. what it will look at, however, is a small enterprise called new leaf, located right next to dulwich train station in south london. i made a visit to the dulwich picture gallery with some relatives last week, and although the gallery was okay (read: very small and a lot of mimbly wimbly landscapes and naked ppl) (it has a good cafe tho), what really stood out to me was the journey back from the gallery, whereupon we discovered this:
shop front, with accidental owner arse.oops.
i was first drawn to the shop not because of its front, because of the bloody great mural it had on its side. it featured scientists and natural historians from throughout the decades. from this picture, the only ones i can confirm are (from second left to right) gregor mendel, david attenborough, and rosalind franklin (and none for watson and crick, bye). as soon as i rushed over to the mural, the owner of new leaf hurried out and began to explain the entire venture to my family.

new leaf is a scheme that aims to inspire a sense of community and environmental awareness in the locality, living off volunteering work that aims to create a garden by the side of dulwich train station that displays the evolution of flowering plants. the owner assured us that the pond was going to be filled in soon. new leaf is also funded by the sale of second hand and antique books, which could be found in the shop.
it was a bleak day, to be honest, but when spring really kicks in this garden is going to look fantastic. london's always been a city of contrasts and i will have to take another trip to dulwich in order to see the garden blooming against the cold shapes of the railway line. 

it was also my birthday a month ago...and i was lucky enough to receive this coat from asos! it's kind of in need of a good press, but apart from that, how cute???is it????? i wore this outfit to dulwich picture gallery :)
dress-romwe, cardigan- v old and from the zara kids section it needs repairing I KNOW
and to draw attention to my incredibly pasty legs, my socks-accessorize, brogues-office
discovering something like new leaf in the suburbs is huge privilege, and i'm lucky to live near a city that has so many unique points. if you're in dulwich in the future, i'd recommend checking it out and having the grand tour of the mural by the owner.
track of the day- don't wait, by mapei. i get a lot of positive vibes from this song, although i've been feeling a bit funny about friendship recently. things will change, though. i need to remember that.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

we are young, we are free

this week on 'looks'- guy i saw in the tate britain cafe.
 it's not easy being green (and pink). i loved this outfit not only for its audacity, but the balance of colours. a pink lv baseball cap paired with pink trainers- who'd have thunk it?
today was a good day! rose late, went to my local high street, came back home, corrected my coursework, did a timed essay, made muffins, ate a good dinner, and then went out to see the grand budapest hotel by wes andersen. 
it was a frivolous, thoroughly enjoyable 100 minutes. ralph fiennes was fantastic. the only possible downside to the film was that andersen's idiosyncratic cinematography became rather wearing. when i came out of the cinema i started seeing absolute balance in everything. here's the trailer, if you haven't seen it already-

gorgeous colour schemes in play. the effort put into every shot is huge.
speaking of films, yesterday i watched clueless for what must have been the 1783783th time, and finally got round to actually dressing at least a 23rd like the characters in the film.
everything except the shirt-h&m, shirt-thrifted
bag-a present, from bruges, i believe!

a portrait of the young woman in brown. hm. i truly own too many items of brown clothing. thankfully the weather is warm enough now for me to get away with these socks.
and now for something completely different. i've been following orange caramel as a band for a while, being generally in love with the girls, their outfits, and their kitsch songs, and so i was pretty excited when the teaser for their  new mv came up on my subscriptions feed yesterday.

i am honestly so excited for this mv. we know from the most recent chanel show that vacuum packaging is so hot right now. if you like cute girls dressed as mermaids and also different types of seafood, you should give it a watch!
song of the day: 

i've been thinking abt audrey a lot recently. will report back after further research.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


my blog kind of took a back seat for a little while as i took my mocks last week, and personal *events* also interfered with the general flow of things...
- i got a fringe
- i got an A* in art, and two As in english and french! 
- i got someone suspended for harassing me on facebook!

i'm also becoming much more interested in sewing in my free time. the half term gave me a lot more space to do some things that i had wanted to do. for example, i've had this wonderful cotton-silk mix shirt from zara knocking about in my wardrobe for a while, but the fragility of the fabric resulted in it tearing on the chest and under the armpit.

i did a simple project in which i removed a cuff from the sleeve, and replaced the button with something a little brighter.
it's not super complicated, but it's a start...
i also went out with my cousin on saturday, and we ate pretzels and italian food and went shopping for presents for other people!
shirt- charity shop, jumper and skirt- H&M, boots-topshop, bag-jumble sale
not the most inspired outfit. sometimes you're not really feeling it, you know?
i also picked up some dotty tights and a couple of rings (on sale) from topshop!

so in all, a pretty good weekend! i'm hoping to get this blog back on track as i now have some more time.
song of the day: HAPPY by 2NE1. i've kind of forgotten how GOOD this band is, and this new release did not disappoint.
i stan so hard for these girls.

Monday, 17 February 2014


i often see poetry and self-affirming posts through tumblr that follow a narrative about a woman's clothes and makeup and how they can be used to gain power over a man. i am all for this- i think your appearance is important and it can be manipulated through your clothes, and, by proxy, will manipulate the people around you. however, what really annoys me about these tumblr generated ideas is that they almost always focus on this very specific way of dressing (which i have decided to christen 'powrdressing')- wearing red lipstick, high heels, having sharp, manicured, fingernails, and maybe even doing something intimidating with your eyebrows. this, apparently, is the ultimate way to feel good about yourself and to also thwart any of those pesky menfolk at the same time.
the problem with this is that it is a little unimaginative. anyone can look good in this uniform- it is neat, and sexual. a truly powerful person, however, is someone who can crush your hopes while wearing a goddamn pair of celine pool sliders.

one of the attractions of powrdressing is that it is a uniform that is overtly sexual- bright lips, shoes that flatter your legs and figure- and it is an interesting situation when a person can use something like this to their own advantage. but the model in this campaign does look powerful, wearing her weird, kind of ugly shoes. the details of this outfit count, with the raw hem of her skirt contrasting with her coiffed hair and sober sunglasses, and she seems to be looking up at the viewer as if to ask for an honest explanation, or to demand the reason for you breaking your curfew, or for the wet towels you left on the bathroom. what i'm trying to say is that she looks like a scary mother.
in all seriousness, she looks like a sophisticated adult, something that powrdressing does not represent. admittedly, i don't dress like a responsible adult most days, but that's because i don't spend my time trying to 'stab you with the sharp wings of my eyeliner' or some other twaddle like that. truly powerful outfits are subtle, slightly outlandish, and let you know that the wearer is a formidable person.

esther quek, fashion director at The Rake is a very good example of this, and not because she wears clothes that could be perceived by some as too masculine for feminist dressing. she mixes well-tailored, menswear inspired suits with bright, sugary colours, appropriate shoes, and showy jewelry. her ensembles end up being eyecatching for their subtlety and how put together they are, and how she wears them with nonchalance.

the inimitable susie lau of style bubble is also a good example of powerful dressing, although her outfits are far more quirky that those of quek's. lau, again, has a keen eye for detail, and also a talent for making happy marriages out of unlikely pieces. greatest clothes relationship counsellor in the world, susie lau. 
so i guess the crux of this post is that a powerful appearance is not dictated by high heels, or red lipstick, or whatever thing american YA shows dress their 'strong female characters' in. detail, originality, and a general air of confidence are what makes it for me.
 song of the day:

it's been 84 years...and i still really like this song...

Sunday, 16 February 2014

not my outfit

this week, on 'omg i love ur outfit!' we have an extremely cute lady i saw on the tram. she sat on her boyfriend's lap for half of the journey. i did a bit of surreptitious googling about her trainers and worked out that she was wearing air jordans...which pair exactly i could not find out.
i've also started my as art coursework, and i'm kind of in love with the work of shaun kardinal.
he embroiders directly onto vintage postcards to create his graphic, bold pieces. hmm...looks like something i could do.
this week, as per usual, i've been feeling a bit under the weather. someone i considered to be a friend (not a close one) sent me a series of messages on facebook that joked about sexually assaulting me. it made me re-evaluate a lot of things. thankfully my school got involved, and the 'friend' will be punished appropriately.
bit of a downer, eh?