Sunday, 13 April 2014
If you're a swotty, overly ambitious sort, you might be a bit like me just now. Slouched in front of an intimidatingly high pile of books, notes and highlighters, wondering what the point of anything even is, sensing all your swottiness and ambition slip away as quickly as the final notes of Radiohead's No Surprises.
We're in a dire predicament, here, aren't we? It's all a bit uninviting. So sit still. Sit right where you are. .. did you feel that? That was me mentally hugging you. I feel you, pal. We're in this together. We're bound in our reluctance to just "crack on with it" and hatred of the mere bloody sight of highlighters.
Hopefully though, you are at least a bit sane, meaning you're coping with revision a little better than I am, right now. "Alarmingly miserable sort" doesn't even cover it when I begrudgingly commit myself to a full day of work, and I don't just mean a little grumble. I make the full transformation from lovable swine to full on bitchy piglet. There's no dipping your toe in this stuff - in my eyes, if you're going to be miserable about revising, you have to dive into it. You don't just listen to Morrissey - you must become Morrissey. You must walk around bearing a pain in your heart so awful and immediate that you frequently stab a pen into your piles of notes and sing the chorus of Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now at regular intervals between choked sobs.
No. You are probably far saner than I am.
But the pressure to do well in exams is still enormous, to the point that yes, it does send me a bit cuckoo. I wonder if you feel a fraction of that. For every rant about your inevitable failure and subsequent application form for benefits, there's one "right on" dude rather unhelpfully bleating about how intelligence is like, so not measured by exams. As futile as his point may be until that pesky Gove fellow gets off his cloud, this person is right. Nonetheless, you get to a certain age and it no longer seems to feel like by failing your exams, you've failed your parents and teachers. No, it's no longer about them. It's about you. Not getting the grades you've hoped for becomes more personal, and makes you feel like the one awesome son of a gun you truly are is actually somewhat lacking in awesomeness...it's as though you've failed yourself, and it's really hard to shrug that off. Do you get that? Are you at that point too?
Maybe you are. Maybe we're the same on that front. Exactly the same.
Either way, you don't have to be psychologist to suss out that this is all totally ridiculous, of course. Whatever phase of your life that you're in - GCSEs, A-Levels, degree level - your exams are ultimately not sealing your fate on the course of life itself. Not coming out on top won't kill you. To not get an A grade in an exam won't mean you have to start worrying about emotional fulfilment, the knowledge that your parents won't kick you out or your friends thinking you're a total dickhead. Hopefully, you have these with or without that A grade. And aren't they considerably more important?
They are. You know it, I know it. But it's easy to feel a bit peeved off with your brain, anyway. Especially when there's that one Facebook friend who posts a status detailing their exact grade that they must've stopped sleeping for a month in order to achieve. Well, that Facebook friend clearly has something to prove to the world, which is terribly sad, really, and we must pity them. Just remember that you have nothing to prove to anyone, so hold it together, babycakes. We've got this - and even if we don't, we have our health, our families, our friends, whatever is left of our sanity and the time to simply try again. It is a cruel and unfortunate truth that it is sometimes incredibly easy to lose sight of that
So, young warrior, good luck with whatever you're doing! If you do good: awesome. If you don't: there's stacks of time to moan, despair and loathe the world around you, then dry your eyes and try again. Much love,
Floraidh, reluctant reviser and your friendly neighbourhood trainwreck, who will have untimely mental breakdowns so you don't have to. x
Sunday, 6 April 2014
And then there is Kim’s fiancé, who lovingly embraces a Lanvin clad Kim on the infamous cover. Kanye West is not exactly known for his modest, down to earth nature. One never really gets a sense of him being “just like us ordinary folk”; only recently did he somewhat bizzarely claim to be the “world’s number one rock star”. Vogue readers were particularly vicious on his featuring in the magazine, making distasteful comments about his race and turbulent background. But like Kim, Kanye has overcome his fair share of adversity which could’ve easily blocked his road to the success he now enjoys. He initially struggled to enter the music industry, only being taken seriously as a music producer, alongside being rejected by numerous record companies on account of him not fulfilling the “gangsta image”. This is the man who has since come to pen and release the greatest karaoke song of all time – Gold Digger, of course! – So just like his fiancé, he had to endure a few speed bumps before coming out on top in the end. Vogue is known for putting aspirational stars on the cover, and could Kanye’s backstory fit the bill any more?
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
I have a very big nose.
I'll paint you a picture. If noses had personalities, mine would be brash, probably pretty cruel and determined to steal the spotlight. If people were noses, my nose would be Ann Widdecombe: large, would be very out of place in a televised dancing competition, potentially lovable for all its imperfections but let's face it - nobody would go out of their way to catch a glimpse of it.
Then I hit my teens, and I knew I couldn't ignore this uselessly large vessel plonked rather inconveniently on my face any longer. After careful consideration, I noted two options. The first was to simply cry and wait - wait for a nose job whilst being in a permanent fit of tears between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. The other was to just...ignore it. Focus on other things such as education and growing a nice bum, like Beyoncé. Develop a talent, preferably sporting so boys would think I was fitter. Become funny, so people would too busy laughing at my pithy one liners to notice that my nose was a good 7cm in front of the rest of my body.
As you can see, thirteen year old logic didn't leave me with many choices. It did not take long to suss out that crying makes you look even more of a wretched hag and highly unapproachable, so the first option was ruled out immediately. The second was also somewhat ambitious; nine years have passed and I still have the bum of a pre-pubescent boy, I gave up on sporting because P.E. kits just weren't very "me" and I suppose my sense of humour was never universally appreciated (and shockingly still isn't).
But it didn't matter, in the end, because I found a figure that made me feel very much alright about having a big nose. A figure that made me feel as though it didn't matter that my nose made me look pretty unspectacular. My real breakthrough came in the shape of my crooked nose queen, my big snozzled soul sister: Ashlee Simpson.
For those of you who don't know who that is and had perfectly content teenage years because I suppose you've always looked like a fucking goddess, Ashlee Simpson is Jessica's sister of the Daisy Duke fame. She had a short lived and rather tame musical career in "pop punk" with singles such as "Boyfriend" and erm...not too sure, don't remember, which says it all really. But anyway, Ashlee was on the scene when my pre-teen self was on a total downer over her looks and struggling to find herself - and just like me, Ashlee had a generously sized nose. She was successful and looked so beautiful. I found this to have a profoundly hopeful impact on me.
That did not last. I still remember the day when I discovered that Ashlee - the supposed cure to my insecurity - paid to get her nose broken and reshaped into something a bit daintier. I was a bit older at this point but no less gutted. Like me, she did not have the perfect nose I so desperately desired. She did not look as conventionally beautiful as other pop stars, yet still made her own mark. But she still got rid of the flaw that we shared instead of embracing it and that almost symbolised the end of hope for me.
I got over it, though. The one consolation that brings me joy to this day is how downhill it all went for old Ashlee post-nose job. She hasn't had one hit single since "Boyfriend". She's married then divorced Fall Out Boy bassist and Total Hot Dude Pete Wentz.
|You take away the nose and what's left? WHAT'S LEFT, ASHLEE?!|
And the trend stands for other celebrities who may once have been previously looked up to and admired, just like I did with Ashlee. Even in my wildest dreams, it makes me feel as though #KeepTheBigBeak is a campaign that could actually take off. Take Ashley Tisdale - does anybody actually know what she's done career wise since High School Musical? Not to mention Joan Rivers - maybe at some point in her life she was likeable, but it was never post-rhinoplasty, and now she says terrible things about other celebrities to make a living. Plus, let me tell you one thing about that Rebecca Adlington -
Oh okay, she won an Olympic medal for Great Britain. Whatever.
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
"Selfies.." she begins a tone that warns there is no room for debate. "Selfies are for losers. Like, I don't understand. Why would you want to have a picture of yourself clearly not having a life? It's just so 'Year 9'"
As a self confessed selfie fan, her theory unhinges me somewhat. Sitting meekly with a head full of counter arguments but no guts to voice them aloud, I ponder my own current Facebook profile picture - a selfie. The self conscious pre-teen voice that lay dormant within me suddenly jerks back to life with a fretting monologue; is that...a universal thought? I worry. Or is it just her? Oh god, I don't know. But the thing is, my hair is pink and my lashes look long and my lips are the good shade of red and for a change - for a really pleasant, welcome change - I quite like how I look in that picture.
|This is said selfie. I was a nerdy Nicki Minaj. Now I'm just nerdy again..|
Looking back now - hundreds upon hundreds of selfies later - I realise that's actually the whole point; you should like how you look in pictures. You should at least try to. Whether that picture was taken with your webcam at home because your hair looked alright or when you were riding that elephant in a bikini with your mate in Thailand, if that's the little snapshot of you that you wish to present to the world then crack on. It's your face.
But you might not have the most straightforward of relationships with that face. It could be a tumultuous one; a love affair one day, then hitting a rocky patch the next and wanting to cover it up with a balaclava, for the rest of your natural life if possible. You might not have the kind of face that cameras love, and your goddamn friends always seems to capture you at your worst angles - double chin and all.
Now here, here is where the true beauty of the selfie lies.
With a selfie, you are in control. You can actually determine if your Facebook friends can see that double chin or not! Your hair can be perfectly coiffed; makeup tastefully applied; skin glowing; your best angle captured and projected for the world to see. Surely, this is empowering. I know when I take a successful selfie where my double chin is artfully concealed and my generously sized nose is less obvious, I get a little self confidence boost. They don't come around very often, so why should I be made to feel bad for them?
Plus, consider your surroundings. In day to day life, images of supposed "perfection" are thrust at you from all angles regardless of if you've got the strength to shrug them off or not. Achingly beautiful women and men with looks that could stop traffic modelling clothes on shop windows; club promoters so effortlessly stunning it feels as though the effort you've made for the night wasn't worth much, after all; actors and actresses on movie posters outside of the cinema - again, with head turning, heart racing looks that are difficult to ignore. Why shouldn't you try and do what you can to fit that bill sometimes if it gives your self esteem the little raise it needs?
Today, Glasgow - my current "home" - was ranked 37th for cities in the whole world with the most selfies taken. After initial concern that I accounted for at least half of them, I realised just how strangely brilliant this news was. Perhaps the beauty of trying to find your own beauty via a selfie is not just passed off as exclusively for "losers" after all. I'm so glad of it. Because in that smile or pout towards your phone camera is an attempt to love yourself, and as somebody who continues to fight in an eternal struggle to do exactly that, I could not encourage selfies any more.
Monday, 3 March 2014
Have you figured it out yet?
Yes, these are all signifiers of mother nature's monthly "gift", though answers on a postcard as to who came up with that metaphor - "gift" infers something pleasant and unexpected, but a period is highly unpleasant and anticipated with dread. Sure, I'm not pregnant and I'm pretty pleased about it, but I do now deserve these five days of hell?!
|How I currently look and feel.|
Now, I'm not usually one to moan about being a girl. Regrettably, I can only empty my bladder sitting down and do occasionally wonder what the magical peeing mobility men have is like...but aside from that, the "being female" experience gets a big thumbs UP from me. I love to perpetuate what is my own personal definition of femininity and I love to celebrate other women's, too; but I really, really don't love periods.
For a start, I don't love crazily heightened emotions; I'm impartial to a good weep every now and then, but crying at the mere sight of a baby smiling, a particularly unforgiving hangover or a friend's mildly inspiring story is just a waste of precious mascara! Not to mention the anger; suddenly when your hormones are racing, so is your ability to rage at just about anything. Even the most mild mannered and pleasant of women can experience tinges of unjustified wrath. I would say I've been properly, fist-shaking angry at least three times today. Why? I don't want to tell you. Because my reasons are ridiculous.
When asked how a period physically feels, my friend Becca sombrely replied with "death". Though I can't confirm if that's a truthful account of death itself, I can admit that it is pretty dire. Period pain is not just the occasional twinge in your stomach. It is not something that can be easily cured with your mother's old remedy of "rubbing your tummy and having a poo"; it is a sharp, constant ache in your abdomen that can make any movement painful and render you bed bound. That said, some women claim to never experience period pain as they "exercise regularly". Ignore these women.
Furthermore, periods do not make your hair shine, nails stronger and skin glow like a lighthouse. They do the complete opposite. Obviously I can't speak on the science behind it all, but around this time of the month is when your skin becomes prone to spots the size of mountains popping up all over your face. This grease also appears in your hair. For me, though, the worst part is becoming bloated around the face and belly due to water retention (maybe?? Not sure?), which makes it incredibly hard to have any kind of body confidence - already quite a hard thing to achieve in the slimmer times of the month. Currently, if you lightly slap my belly, it will jiggle around a bit for around a second and a half. This does not ordinarily happen. I am pissed off about it.
Unfortunately, there's a major catch in what I've just described for the menfolk of the universe: you are gleefully free from it all! As well as being able to pee where ever you like (amazing! AMAZING!!) you are more or less consistently of the same mind frame, which must make it difficult to understand life with oestrogen, extraordinarily priced tampons and walking around with a towel between your legs. Here are some wise tips from me - a mere, incredibly hormonal woman; boys, tread carefully, even when she's being irrational. Love patiently, even though she's pretty hard to love when she's constantly screeching at you. Compliment generously, though actually, her bum does look a bit big in that. She might not be great right now, but it's a biological thing; and like Marilyn said, if you can't handle her at her worst, then you don't deserve her when she's back at her bloody fabulous best when this month's episode is all over.
Sunday, 2 March 2014
"IF LEO DOESN'T WIN THAT OSCAR, I SWEAR TO GOD...!"
"He deserves it. This is HIS year. Nobody can steal his glory this time!"
"Guys, if Leo wins, you know what this means - it will break Tumblr"
Maybe a tad alarmingly, these are all real life responses to the phenomenon that is Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars. It is one of showbiz's most painfully prolonged "awkward moments" that Leo has missed out on the Best Actor gong at the Academy Awards no less than three times - and on that mortifying third snub, we reeled for him as though he was our close, personal friend. This year, he is nominated for a fourth time for his turn in Martin Scorsese's “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and again we fiercely root for him like he is indeed this close, personal friend of ours.
Why is this? He isn't our friend. Let's face it - we're probably never going to meet him, let alone put the world to rights over a drink in Nice 'n' Sleazy. This goes for all of the actors, actresses and directors who become household names over the annual three months Awards Season. From the beginning Gotham Awards to the all-important Academy Awards which bring the period to a close, we speculate and dissect everything from the colour of the soles of Cate Blanchett's stilettos (Laboutins or Jimmy Choos?) to which hot young thing George Clooney will bring on his arm this year. For most of us, we get utterly caught up in the glamorous gossip and hype of what happens on the red carpet during Awards Season every single year without fail. It would be a rare thing to meet somebody who will turn to you and hiss "actually, I hate the Oscars. I don't want to talk about them and I'm slightly upset that you'd think I would".
But of course, these people do exist. Not everybody is so quick to swoon over VB dresses or what kooky thing Jennifer Lawrence might say in her inevitable acceptance speech. In 2012, Oscar nominated Joaquin Phoenix famously shunned the Awards season, referring to it all as "total utter bullshit". At the time this caused quite the stir amongst critics, with some even claiming that it had shattered his chances of success entirely (he didn't get that Oscar in the end - which is a real shame. He was bloody brilliant in "The Master"). However, Joaquin has not been the only one to slate the Oscars; after his Best Actor nomination for his role in "Silver Linings Playbook" total heartthrob Bradley Cooper also expressed a dismissive attitude towards the Awards. He stated that they no longer mattered to him following the death of his father; "I don't want to win an Oscar. It would change nothing. Nothing". Seemingly, it is just as much of a rarity to hear a bona fide actor shun the prestigious awards, too.
However, maybe it could be that old Joaquin and co. has a point - maybe there is an element of 'bullshittiness' to Awards Season. A three month period dedicated entirely to honouring the people that put a film from the script to screen could be equated to three months of back slapping and pure self-congratulations. All things considered, cinema is an art form; the people both in front of and behind the camera are artists; it could be argued that art is truly never created as a matter of competition. Those little gold statues are not necessarily indicators of cinematic superlatives; if Leo doesn't have one - or indeed any of the unsung heroes of the industry - does that really mean they're any less talented; that they will have less of those millions earned, and will cease to work in a field thousands will dream of entering, usually with little success?
Furthermore, cinema serves a great purpose, there's no denying that. But there was never a film that restores heartbeats like surgeons; actors do not spend Christmas Days caring for the sickly for undeservedly low wages; cinema does not keep peace like those who risk their lives for us every day. Perhaps it is people such as those doing honourable deeds who deserve three months of straight praise and being consistently told how wonderful and worthwhile their work is.
So, if Leo doesn't get that highly coveted Oscar, it's likely that the majority of us will feel a little disappointed on his behalf. After all, he's an insanely talented guy and has really shone in his roles in hits such as "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?", "Blood Diamond" and "Django Unchained". Heat magazine would totally to rip him to shreds, too, which is never pleasant. But it won't be the end of the world; we can still appreciate him for being the fabulous actor that he is. Not having an Oscar will not reduce his fabulousness. But it is interesting just how cray we all go for him anyway, right? Plus, there is always the one huge bright side of Leo missing out again; it means Tumblr will remain its glorious self, and not at all "broken".
This article was originally published in Qmunicate magazine, the glorious publication of Glasgow University's Queen Margaret Union.
Thursday, 27 February 2014
After four years, I'm less enamoured with it all. Much as I still enjoy a night on the town, I've noticed a few things that perplex me, making the prospect of ditching my stilettos, putting on my slippers and quietly watching a film seem infinitely more attractive.
It all starts with pre-drinks. There is always somebody who drinks that tiny bit too much - alright, half a bottle of Absinthe - before they go out. You can try your humble best to intervene and kindly suggest that they give the club a miss, but they still slur at you how fine they are, "god Flo you're so BORING!!" Admittedly - I throw my hands up to this - I am one of those people who is guilty of getting too drunk at predrinks to venture anywhere other than to bed. But even the most tiddly version of myself knows this. There's always that one idiot who doesn't.
You get to the club. The dance floor is the battle, where the "wahey, disco disco" goes down. Unfortunately, the dance floor is not just where the young, hip crowd cut their moves - they cut their actual fellow clubbers! Physically cut them with their ridiculous stilettos! That's not the least of it; cheap hair extensions are yanked off heads, elbows with the power of lorries come at you from all directions - on your arm if you're lucky, ribs if you're plainly doomed. Trashed on Jagerbombs or not, if someone jumps up to the chorus of Animals and lands of your poor, unsuspecting foot, you know about it. Dance floors are hellish if you're not drunk enough to ignore the fact you're being shoved in a million directions and are eerily aware that it cannot be blamed on the boogie.
The dance floor is the battle, yes. The toilets are supposedly the trenches. If anything bad is happening, it is almost certainly happening there. Much as I appreciate the occasional drunk toilet conversations with other girls - "you're pretty!" "nooo you're pretty you're so cute!" "nah you're prettiest though!" "Awww!" "AWWW!" - they certainly don't act as a safe refuge away from the chaos of the bar and the dance floor. There are always the same old characters stumbling around who make it an impossible place to just chill out for a minute and reapply your lipstick. There's the girl who's drank too much and is crying hysterically over her cheating ex boyfriend; the girl who wore ridiculous shoes and is sprawled out on the floor, woefully glancing at her blistered feet; and finally, the girls taking selfies in the mirror. Darlings, there is a fabulous world out there to take pictures with and you've chosen the bog, and I can't get to the sink to wash my hands.
Speaking of trying to maintain some standards of cleanliness, clubs smell like the changing rooms from secondary school. This is odd, considering the club's entire clientele have usually drenched their selves in perfume/aftershave to add to their allure. If you've ever been half way sober in one of these places, you will know that and be equally as disenchanted. You don't need to have a beak as large as mine to know that.
Another issue that comes with being a human female in a club is the one that can put me off going the most; it is the one that sobers me up in seconds, regain my ability to walk in a straight line and storm straight out of the club and into a taxi home. That is the continuous fear of that one bloke who wants to cop a feel. For every club, there will be one guy who assumes you're too drunk to notice that he standing right in front of you, speechless, simply leering as though your boobs are the one, single thing worth looking at in life. If he's being a bit crafty, he'll walk past you but be sure to give your bum (and other nether regions) a quick grope. I've never been drunk enough to not notice and feel the bitter, angry tears forming behind my eyelids. Not that it's any real consolation, but these creeps pull the especially short straw with me. I have the arse of a 10 year old boy.
Don't get me started on the music.
Of course, pretty much none of this applies to alt clubs. Funny that, eh? Plus, it is not like any of this stops me or anybody else who quietly acknowledges how rubbish clubbing can be. In fact, when I was midway through writing this post, I gave myself a quick break to walk to Superdrug to buy a pair of falsies before I go out tonight.