Why You Should Say Thank You To A Dickhead

3dc4b6b90ae5642e113ad0fff681b674You know what’s funny? We need horrible trolls sometimes, just like we need oxygen. If someone is a prick to you, you are totally within your rights to have a ball of rage inside your stomach, but really in your head you should say THANK YOU! We need them in the world. Just like in every single Disney movie that we consume whole-heartedly as kids there is always a villain. Always an evil, horrible, twisted, “bad guy” that makes our childish brains go “no! go away! baddie! mean person!” However they are, essentially, catalysts for the story. They are the stimulus that make the good guys work harder, struggle, be brave, keep going, and eventually, conquer all. A bit of friction goes a long way.

I can remember every villain in my life that (ironically) helped me achieve something off the back of it. There was the teacher at school who would always select me out in class even when other kids were definitely more disruptive than me. When I eventually confronted said teacher about it, she answered: “but your voice is the most distinctive”. That, my friends, is a bullshit excuse to pick on a child. So later on, I decided to take the remark as a compliment, because yes my voice WAS more distinctive, because I pronounced my words properly. Turned out I had good “diction”, said my drama teacher (the good guy): “Speak UP Emma! PROJECT your voice! I want to hear you at the BACK OF THE THEATRE!” Talk about mixed signals. And when I did project my voice loudly and clearly I’d be doing a big “F you” to that earlier boring teacher who wanted to unnecessarily scold me. So thank you, boring teacher, for the rage.

A university professor also took me aside in my third year of studying and decided that my writing wasn’t following the exact structure that she wanted me to. “Too personal” she’d say. She hated it when we all wrote in the first person, as it weakened the argument. I followed her advice obviously, (I wanted to pass!) but she fired us up, because she was so mean. Weirdly, she made us want to write MORE, because she was controlling. She gave us zero freedom, or confidence; we could only write her way. She also enjoyed telling all of us at least once that we were dyslexic, especially when she was angry. Now I write this blog and get paid for writing many articles in the first person. THANK YOU, Professor Party-Pooper, for the rage.

Then there’s the old boss. Who puts you down time and time again, because they don’t really like your determination. They try and sap you with their magic wand so that you’ll just conform like the other desk-workers in their invisible orange jumpsuits. Any sense of spark or joy is not welcome, just like the four grey walls that they turned grey. But, these people don’t “win” when they drive you out – quite the opposite – they force you to think heavily about your future, your life, your needs. Your strange, unfortunate hatred for them make you search really deeply for something different. They are the catalyst for a life-change. They are necessary. Rainbows and butterflies do not make you fight for your future.

Even tonight I overheard a ghastly conversation between a group of individuals. They were using misogynistic language. They were sexist and talking in a vulgar way about money and horribly insensitive about the news. I could have got home and let it affect me, put a downer on my nice evening with my friends, to know such people exist with such sexist, horrible thoughts. But, instead, it provoked me to write on this blog, and write a positive story about how bad things can make you want to do good things. It can make you reflect for a second and think I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be like that.

So if someone wants to be a dick-head to you, that’s fine, it might be good timing. Most of the time you can make a success out of it, and write them a thank you note after.

 

No, I Really Did Wake Up Like This

60708aecf6c6f573a6b0eb23e5f07308Women get so much stick for being Photoshopped, don’t they? We’ve seen the gifs that lurk around the Internet, normally sold like illegal drugs to a website like Jezebel for thousands of pounds just so we can sadistically watch a before-and-after photo on an endless loop. The thing is we don’t need to see them, we didn’t ask to see them; it’s basically just an example of magnified, glorified bullying. I don’t care if something’s Photoshopped or not, it’s up to the model what they want to do. If they want to look nice in print so they can show it to their kids one day then so be it! But the media don’t need to be so MEAN about it. Oddly I also stumbled across another article today about how shock, horror! A model has recently refused to have any Photoshopping and now she’s getting stick for looking so natural with one tiny wrinkle. Ew, an untouched bikini photo you say? I warn you not to look at any of my 2008 Facebook album then. Can’t bloody win these days.

So in this unfortunate situation of “we can’t win” I have started to really not give a shit. Obviously we all like looking nice on certain special occasions, and we all like toning it down, too. But I had a moment of thinking WOOHOO, because if we can’t win, then we are free! Free to look however we want to look! Because either way, it’ll be wrong! I don’t know about you, but this is actually fantastic news if you think about it. Because by not winning all the time, we are WINNING! (The mind boggles).

Recently my person style “inspo” is coming from two people: Caitlin Moran and Kristin Stewart (mainly because she wears trainers on the Red Carpet). And because: they don’t care!

Caitlin gave an awesome quote in last week’s Stylist magazine and it scared me because for a moment I thought she’d crept into my brain and stolen my thoughts.

“Oddly, I feel more insecure if I’ve made an effort, which is the opposite of how you’re supposed to feel as a woman. If you try to do the beautiful hair, dress and make-up, then you’re competing with women who have stylists and world-class make-up artists, so I’d rather take myself out of that race. I can win the ‘being slightly overweight, dishevelled and backcombed with make-up I’ve put on with my fingers’ race instead.”

I always used to feel a bit weird if I’d make a massive effort to “dress up”, and realised around my late teens that there was an interesting correlation between 1) a bad night and getting so dressed up that I felt uncomfortable and 2) a good night and me being in trainers or comfy boots. Then the penny finally dropped. Yes, I did always have a better night in flat shoes and a chilled dress because that was more me. Wearing layer upon layer of make-up and being constantly paranoid about hairspray was ruining all the fun. Last weekend I went to a nightclub in shorts, a jumper and clumpy Birkenstocks (that my sister hates) and I had a brilliant night. I danced for HOURS. I honestly don’t think that would have happened if I was stumbling around like a drunk giraffe in heels.

Basically, I am really enjoying being “out of the race” as Caitlin Moran so perfectly summed up.

 

Some Stuff I’ve Written This Week

In case you fancy a read, here are some pieces I’ve penned this week:

  • In Interview with Jack Antonoff, Lena Dunham’s lovely boyfriend – on The Debrief
  • You Don’t Have To Shave Your Legs to be Feminist – The Independent
  • Life Lessons We’ve Learned From Caitlin Moran’s New Book – The Debrief

 

OK I Admit it: I Should Know More About Politics, But Also Something’s Got To Change

Political-Pundits-Thriving-Online-Via-Mobile-and-Across-Social-MediaThere is definitely a problem here. There’s a clear issue with the accessibility of the political sphere at the moment, and in particular how it speaks to Gen Y. Everything about it reeks of sepia, or a dusty old attic. It needs a shake, or a fresh coat of paint.

Today’s “generation” is everyone’s generation. I’m not trying to wage a war between young versus old here. And I don’t think the “youth” should rule the land. Far from it. And don’t worry; I’m not being a stubborn millennial asking everyone to TALK TO ME IN EMOJIS with a 3-second Snapchat attention span. I just feel as far away as Pluto right now from the goings on in those four-walls of parliament.

The communication around politics hasn’t evolved to fit with the way our modern society works. It’s remained in a frightened bubble of “the way things have always been”. It’s not that we can’t be arsed to vote, it’s that we don’t care enough about it. There’s a subtle but important difference. On top of that: it’s difficult for us to vote, because it requires us travelling back in time to buy a piece of parchment and feather quill. Continue reading

That Moment When Your Idol Is Not Your Idol Anymore

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The first thing that really drew me to Caitlin Moran’s book – apart from the obvious fact that I adore her personality and dare I say it her “personal brand” (pause for vom) – was the name of the book. It wasn’t just “How To Be A Girl” it was “How to Build A Girl”. A subtle but important difference. Not that we should be assembling ourselves physically like Barbie dolls of course, but that we take layers of pop culture, quotes, ideas, personalities, inspirations and build them all together to one day have a proper Self.

I had fixated on a few well-known writers from an early age. As a curious 16-year-old I’d do the classic thing of emailing a few of them cringe emails from my dial-up computer, explaining just how much I wanted to be them when I grew up. Thinking, oh-so-naively, that they would write back to me with an A-Z plan of “how to make it”. The Official Guide To Doing What They Did. A few secret meetings in which they would tell a podgy 16-year-old everything, for free, because of course they would have the time to do that. Amongst the thousands of other desperate emails. Later I learnt it’s rude to ask to pick someone’s brain for free even if you offer a free lunch, unless you are soul mates, or it’s mutually beneficial. Then, (and only then) will someone maybe do you a favour. Continue reading