Book Review: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

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It’s well known that there are a lot of kick ass ladies in history who aren’t taught about or who are looked over. It’s also well known that little girls need people to look up to. So, let me introduce you to a book that covers both of these things. A book that has been raved about online, and I completely understand why.

I just need to say I absolutely adore this book and want to give it to every little girl I know and plan to always have a copy in my home.  Although this is aimed at children I learned so much from it about women I’d never even heard of and I feel like I should have.  There is also great diversity in this book women from across the world with many different achievements, backgrounds, and goals are included.

I did see some complaints online that there wasn’t enough to the stories or they didn’t give that much info but we need to remember that some of these stories didn’t play out so well and this is aimed at children. To me, this was more of a snapshot, I imagine if a little girl, or boy, found someone really cool from this book they might look into them more or ask questions. That’s one of the most beautiful things about this book, it invites thinking and questions and intelligence.

Each woman chosen has their own unique portrait alongside the piece about them and they are stunning. Illustrated in different styles and colours no two looks the same. Additionally, there is a quote from every woman within the illustration to really sum them up as a person, which was a really nice touch.

If you haven’t guessed already, I gave this five stars. I’m in love with it, I would recommend it to absolutely EVERYONE because I honestly think there’s something for everyone to learn from it. There are all these amazing women from all over the world who have done incredible things for humanity, it’s about time they are all celebrated and that’s exactly what this book does.

 

International Women’s Day 2016

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Happy International Women’s Day you lovely lot! I found this awesome illustration online today and had to share it with you all! On a side note if anyone can let me know who the artist is I’d really appreciate it.  I was supposed to be watching the incredible Caitlin Moran tonight but for a bunch of reasons I’m sat at home instead thinking about what this day means to me.

In the past year I’m lucky enough to have had a huge and brilliant feminist epiphany after spending my whole summer propped up with books for company. I read everything I could get my hands on Caitlin Moran, Lena Dunham, Polly Vernon, Mindy Kaling, Natasha Walter and I still have a pile that I’m slowly adding more and more books. I scoured the internet for Ted Talks and I’ve watched every one I can find.

I’m not claiming I have it right, that I’m a perfect feminist. I know I’m not. I’ve said stupid things before because I wasn’t educated but now I am and I want to join everyone who wants to fight for gender equality all over the world.

We might not have it the easiest and I know I have it easier than a lot of women around the world and we still have a lot to change. That said I feel lucky to be a woman, I feel lucky to be in the company of some incredible fellow females. I feel grateful for the women who made me who I am today, whether that be by bringing me up, teaching me or the words of women who I’ve never met.

Happy International Women’s Day to all you Wonder Women out there!

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling

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“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.”

There is no doubt that Mindy Kaling is hilarious. I have to admit though, before reading this book I didn’t really know who she was, I’d seen her face when my boyfriend was watching The Office but other than that I had no idea. I picked up this book in a charity shop for something like £2 because the title appealed to me and I’d heard that it was funny, in those respects I wasn’t disappointed.

This is Mindy’s first book it isn’t an autobiography as such but features prominent parts of her life and, well, to me it was like you were chatting with an old friend. Mindy is funny, brutally honest and best of all seems just like the rest of us. She was an awkward teenager, can be an awkwards adult and has also had those, oh my god what am I doing with my life moments that we all have. She doesn’t pretend that she’s totally happy and over the fact that she has her own show and was part of one of the most popular shows on American TV, in fact she seems excited and frankly a bit geeky about it all, in a good way of course.

The book covers everything from growing up as a chubby indian kid, boyfriends (or lack thereof), sex, careers, embarrassing yourself. It has a feminine charm, but is not sickly sweet. It’s ballsy, without being too in your face. There seems to be a good balance in the book and, of course, it’s laugh out loud funny too. I wouldn’t say it’s the funniest book I’ve ever read, some of the jokes made me uncomfortable but I think that was more because of how I feel about certain topics rather than being outright rude. It’s obvious while reading that Mindy is a fantastic writer, it isn’t easy to pull off written comedy but she definitely manages.

I also found it great that Mindy stands up for being feminine. She declares her undying love for romantic comedies, which I am partial to I spend the majority of my teenage years endlessly watching them. She talks about clothes and diets and a lot of girly things that people have judged her for in the past, basically I love her for being herself and not caring what others think. She says “I think of myself as a smart and funny person, but I am very girly, and in the past I’ve been hurt by people who criticise me for liking things they think are beneath me, like shopping or whatever, and the people who give me the hardest time about it are women. I think it may be because there are so few women in comedy and so there’s a feeling that we shouldn’t sell women out, but I don’t see talking about fashion as selling women out.”

I gave this book 4 stars in total ****. It was a funny and engaging book to read, perfect for something to pick up, chill out and feel like there are a lot of other people who think, feel and act the same as you, hell some of them even get famous! The reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because while it was good, like I said there were some jokes I wasn’t entirely comfortable with and there were small parts that dragged. With that in mind as soon as I finished the next book was on my wishlist because without a doubt Mindy and write and she is funny. I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it, I can’t wait to see what she does next!

 

Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham

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“I would be a horrible girlfriend at this point in my life, because I’m both needy and unavailable.”

Lena Dunham has become a phenomenon, as a successful young woman who has created a hit show whilst also starring in it. I didn’t really know of her before reading but I had heard good things about the book and decided to pick it up while it was on offer. I’m all for giving something a go.

Not That Kind of Girl promises to tell you what a young girl has “learned”, but I really didn’t get that. I’ve watched Lena in interviews and she seems funny and sweet but it just doesn’t come across in her book. If anything, when reading, I just felt like it was a load of first world problems. I was told it would be a great feminist book and I’d feel as empowered as I did when I read Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. 

That said, it wasn’t all bad. There were some parts of the book that were really funny, especially when she’s talking about sex and her college years. The chapter titled Girls and Jerks was quite funny because Dunham injects humor into situations where most of us would facepalm.

Dunham is only eight years older than me but I just felt that I couldn’t connect with her. I couldn’t see myself in her situations, her New York life and just generally her life experience. It’s not that I think she’s spoilt but there are a lot of tedious and self absorbed passages that I just didn’t find interesting.

I wish that I had fallen in love with this book, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I ended up giving this only 2 stars **, it’s clear that Lena has a writing talent  (her show is huge after all) but as a person she didn’t come across well through the book. If you are a fan of Girls then this might be the for you but I think I’ll just stick to watching her interviews.

Stylist Live!

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This week I was lucky enough to win tickets to Stylist Live, this is Stylist magazine’s first big event, located in central London with great speakers such as Katie Piper, Nigella Lawson, Dawn O’porter to name just a few. The event has been running for the past few days and today was its last. Now I had no idea what to expect from an event like this, I’ve never been to anything fashion and magazine like before.

So Dani and I turned up, were handed a drink and just kind of wandered around until there was something we wanted to do. I got the impression that the event was for people with money and speaking to great companies but a lot of them are way out of my price range. It was a nice thing to go to but I don’t think I would have paid £25 for a ticket because there just wasn’t enough to do. While I had a plan of all these talks I wanted to go to the rooms were too small, getting there 15-20 minutes early and the talk was already full. You’d have to wait for nearly an hour to go to one talk, meaning you would miss your next one.

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I did enjoy seeing my first proper fashion show, even if I didn’t take it entirely seriously, really because catwalk fashion is always a little off to me. The catwalk was better because it was based on high street, even though I definitely don’t have the body type for 90% of the outfits on the catwalk. I think I’ll stick to my Next jumpers and Topshop jumpers!

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We made the most of the day though, we left early because the queues were crazy and ended up in an amazing little Oxfam bookshop where I ended up getting a load of stuff for my dissertation and there was an amazing piano (in the top left of the above picture). I’m glad I got to spend the day with Daniela and do something a little different, as well as getting some good news which you’ll have to check tomorrow’s post for. All in all I think I’m going to be sticking mostly with book reviews and my student bits and pieces, I’m not quite a fashionista yet.

Who’s that girl?

Who’s that girl I see looking at me from a magazine? She’s perfect, she has flawless skin, bright eyes and not a hair out of place, she’s thin, there are no hips, no cellulite, although despite her skinny frame her breasts are fantastic. She’s not real. Tonight I spent a good amount of time watching the above and this afternoon I was reading my normal monthly set of women’s magazines.

Now I’m not going to use this article to bash women’s magazines because I know some who really do support women, although I can’t claim to understand some of the articles. I do have a problem with advertising, because it promotes an image that none of us can achieve. I’ve said many times on this blog that I’m not always happy with my body, especially as of late. I fractured my spine, I put on some weight and I wish I could say so what but I’m surrounded by images of thin and beautiful women.

I’m not saying we ban an idea of beauty, I mean who hasn’t used a good filter on Instagram? Or been happy with a little touch up here and there? Of course we do. I also want you to think about any time you’ve felt a little bit sad looking at pictures or thought I wish I looked like that, because I know that as an impressionable teenager I had these fleeting thoughts but they wouldn’t damage me right? Wrong. In part these images added to my feelings of self consciousness and comparing myself to other women.

In the video about I heard about young women who took on teen magazines to limit the use of photoshop. This gives me so much joy and hope. At that age you don’t always know that these images aren’t real, that you can’t look like that. I remember posing like Paris Hilton (I was a young teenager, and it was the early 2000s, give me a break) in a holiday snap to try and look thinner…I wasn’t fat to begin with. Children and young people are very impressionable, especially as you hit the teenage years your body is doing things you have no control over, your spotty or greasy or whatever.

Now for most of us who are bullied and teased we grow up and shed that awkwardness, even just a little, but at the same time we didn’t have the glare of social media. I just want to educate young girls that this isn’t real and at the same time. I want the media to stop sexualising everything they can, to not cut a model like a pumpkin, carving what they want out of you.

Just preparing for a project I’m going to do and looking at the words used in women’s magazines and they’re almost as responsible as the pictures. I want to do something positive. I want to shout it for the roof tops as I remind my little sister that she is the most naturally beautiful person I know and my little cousin that just because we’re a different shape to my sister doesn’t mean were not beautiful too. I want to make people not feel ashamed to wear makeup or want to get fitter but to know that there are so many different types of perfect and not just the models in a magazine.

I miss fitness! My thoughts on ‘being brave’ and keeping going.

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Now I’ve said before that I’m not a health and fitness fanatic. If there was an option between a healthy snack and something covered in chocolate I’d bite your hand off for the chocolate. I made some healthier choices this year, I walked to uni most days (unless it was a Thursday morning, early starts after a late night are not a good idea), I swam occasionally and for the first time in my life I embraced a sport and did it every week. I’m also stubborn and have a rebellious streak. Normally if someone told me that I wasn’t allowed to ride I’d prove them wrong and get on, going twice as fast. I can’t do that right now.

To say that all this stress hasn’t been easy is an understatement. It’s not in the way that people see it. I keep getting told that I’m brave, that I’m so inspiring. To be honest I find it incredible that people are so sympathetic to me fracturing my spine but 6 years of mental health problems didn’t get any cards or bravery speeches, but that’s another blog post. I mean yeah I suppose to other people they really can’t imagine just getting on with life after breaking a vital part of your body, but do I feel brave? No. I just feel like I’m getting on with it. It’s something I spoke to my parents about the other day after people were told about me and just were amazed. It was nice and they were lovely people but I just said to my parents, wouldn’t everyone just get on with their lives? Apparently not, but I was raised to just battle on through.

So after yesterday’s post it’s clear that I’m still up and down, still getting there. Today a low decided to hit. I think it’s post festival blues, combined with stressing about the future and being tired from my back pain. It was relatively normal stuff and I wasn’t miserable or ‘meh’ all day, it was more when I was alone. I realised that the things I’d normally do when I feel bad, I couldn’t do and it just made me want to curl up under my duvet and cry. I didn’t. I finished the book I started reading last night and spoke to a few friends.

I never realised that exercise was something I’d miss, but then again I suppose you don’t until it’s something that you can’t do. I want to do some sit ups to get rid of a little excess weight, I want to sign up to gym, run around with the kids at work, swim without worrying I won’t be able to get out of the pool. Hell I’d like to be able to have a bath without worrying that I will get stuck!

The one thing I have though is writing, writing this or songs or fiction. I have to get out of the clouded stage before I can write anything but I can feel it lifting more and more as I type this. I am struggling a little bit with my exercise and little walks to clear my head. I suppose it’s one of the biggest challenges to my mental health it’s all the things I’d usually avoid. If I try and search for a positive in all this I suppose I can see that I’ve been there once and even though I’ve spent a good amount of time on my own, I’m currently missing my friends like a limb and I deal with physical pain every day I’m getting through it one day at a time.

I know this is a long blog but I can almost bet anything that someone out there will read this and understand. That someone will understand the both freeing and unnerving feeling that I have to go through this low without my normal strategies. I’m ok though, really. I have a good few days lined up and for once I can remember that these lows don’t last forever.

Thanks for reading guys, as usual I’d love to hear from you. Oh! And thank you to every single one of you following me on twitter, another 100 followers in the past few weeks! It really put a smile on my face!