My Body is not a Fashion Statement

I read earlier this week that the latest ‘trend’ to hit the world is small nipples, this is to such an extent that many women are getting plastic surgery to reduce the size of their nipples in the hopes of staying en vogue.

As we grow our skin stretches (if it didn’t puberty would have been a much worse nightmare, see Freddy Kruger for inspo). Small nipples on big boobs are a fashion statement as feasible to achieve naturally as me being able to pull off padded shoulders or flared jeans (I’m short and broad shouldered, need more be said?).

But, this is brought me back to another article I read a few weeks back, claiming that for the first time in years it is more desirable to have a large bum than large breasts, but, fear not, big boobs are still a close second.

It seems that the small nippled, large breasted, big bottomed women are the must have fashion statement of year – I’ll add that to my wish list of wardrobe updates for 2017, shall I?

Fashions have a great effect on how we style ourselves and a profound effect on our self confidence. We have all looked back at one time in our life and thought ‘good god, I used to wear that/do my hair like that’ just because it was the fashion and we were ‘on trend’.

I remember as a teen having the biggest side fringe on a side parting (the emo fringe) until one day realising that I was very much out of fashion, deciding to swap to an a-line fringe on a middle parting, far more in fashion. Some fashions can make us look back in embarrassment, other fashions can make us feel embarrassed at the time.

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I also recall getting my hair cut shoulder length with a full fringe, a huge mistake as not only did I look awful, shoulder length hair went out of date way before I was able to get my long hair back. I remember feeling downhearted when I began university as all these girls with super long hair strutted around whilst, against my will, I was still modelling hair that refused to grow past my shoulders.

As everyone that has been through a similar thing will know, feeling uncomfortable with something like that can make a huge difference to your self-esteem and confidence. I can look back now and laugh, feel stupid that I cared so much. When what you’re being told to change is short hair to long hair, skinny jeans to mum jeans or flares, or stiletto heels to platforms, in the long run it’s a minor change. Fashion changes all the time, if it didn’t shops wouldn’t sell nearly as much.

But, when suddenly your body is unfashionable; something difficult to change, sometimes naturally impossible, it reaches a whole new level of self-esteem crushing objectification.

I am a petite woman, brunette, I have large breasts and the standard nipple size that comes with that. I have always had large hips and an hourglass shape, I have never quite had the bum to go with it. I have been both in fashion and out of fashion.

As a kid thin blondes were all the rage, as an adult it was hourglass brunettes. My large boobs constantly saw attention throughout my teenage years, and now my butt seems to draw judgement.

Like my short, fringed hair was a fashion statement that went out of fashion many perpetuate that so is my hourglass shape or larger breasts. But unlike my hair, I cannot wait until my waist grows out, or hide away my breasts until they’re back in fashion. I can work months on getting a more peachy bum, but by the time I achieve it will I have to cut the carbs and stop the squats?

In a week where we have seen thousands of women across the world march in protest against things just like this, I can’t help but feel consistently disheartened by our world, and by the constant struggle we face to be who we are without judgement.

We are women, our bodies are our own. Whether you’ve got large nipples, a flat bum and small boobs, whether you need to breastfeed in public, whether you need the right to an abortion, your body is your own and only you should be able to make the judgement on what is acceptable and what isn’t, what is fashionable and what isn’t.

A cliché, perhaps, but I sincerely hope that one day tolerance, acceptance and love will be the fashion, even if for as brief a time as I hope the return of platform shoes will be.

Other blogs like this:

An honest look into gender equality

NB: I am aware this this is not a wholly female issue, and that men struggle with the ever more exaggerated images of masculinity, huge muscles, abs of steel, etc. this took the stance of women because 1. I am one 2. Articles relating to the creation of this blog were targeted at women 3. I am not a man so cannot speak for one.

Pokémon gives the Go ahead to Augmented Reality Gaming

To write this blog I obviously had to spend a few hours actually using the app, named Pokémon Go – all in the name of research, of course… Ha! I was born in the early 90s, so spent much of my pocket money on Pokémon cards (much to my father’s disdain). As a 90s baby I also have a weakness for nostalgic blasts from the nineties/naughties past.

But, what really captures the millennial attention with this game is that it’s a good bit of tech. As kids that grew up very much in the new tech boom, this latest delve into augmented reality (AR) has peaked our interest. Whilst it’s been on the techy radar for years now it’s rarely been used outside of the advertising arena, with a small shout out to the AR geology app iGeology3D. So this is the first, real example of successful, big arena AR gaming.

Okay, it’s a little buggy (I played for hours upside down) and yes, perhaps the algorithm isn’t perfect, such as pokémon turning up in inappropriate places but for a free app, the first major one of its kind, it’s pretty good.

It has had a lot of backlash, mainly around the algorithm problems, however, I must question whether the app is entirely to blame. The game is pretty addictive but you know when not to enter somewhere. Equally, the NSPCC have hit back at the game, labelling it irresponsible, which I must agree with to an extent. It’s worth reminding children not to wander off without a responsible adult with them (who is not playing the game) and encourage them to stay in the open, near people, even if there is an Espeon just in those trees, and I think this is something the app fails to address. Something I think Nintendo, as a kid based company, have let themselves down on.

Despite criticisms, I think if the app is played responsibly, with full awareness of your surroundings (which is possible, the app even vibrates when you’re near a Pokémon, so you don’t actually need to stare down at it) then the game is a brilliant example of AR capabilities. It might not be perfect yet, but like many things just starting out – and considering Nintendo and Niantics’ massive underestimation of the game’s uptake – it’s proving to be a real up and comer. In fact, Nintendo shares have risen by almost 12,000 points since the release date (figures true as of 18.07.16).

Okay, you might feel a little weird wandering the streets looking for pokémon but actually, exploring Guildford Town Centre on a busy Friday afternoon, getting a few looks, a couple of sniggers, I found it a weirdly freeing activity. It was embarrassing and I did feel self-conscious… for all of 10 minutes until I found several people quite clearly doing the same thing, jumping for joy because they found a Kakuna (who would’ve thought, eh?) and actually being outside! It was rainy, cloudy and muggy, so for anyone, gamers specifically, to be outside, it’s a kind of big deal.

952photo credit to knowyourmeme.com

In fact, one Radio One interviewee even stated after a few days of Pokémon Go he had walked 25k, ‘more exercise than [he’d] ever done in his life’. And that’s why I love this game. It gets people out, and more than that, it gets people meeting. I met a lovely group of teens, a, rather timid, group of adults and what’s more, we all bonded over something and for that brief moment you feel closer to strangers on the streets than ever before. After all, when else do we say hello and bond with someone we have never met before and will likely never meet again?

So I encourage everyone to give Pokémon Go a try, because as long as we all behave in a safe, responsible, and self-aware manner, then this could really highlight the way for Augmented Reality, and I for one welcome it with open arms.

What is a friend?

Today is national best friends day and it got me thinking about my best friends, and why they are so dear to me.

Growing up we have a lot of friends, some come and go – we drift apart, we fall out, life gets in the way. But others walk into our lives and we know, whether immediately or in time, that our lives will never be the same.

Over time, we can’t imagine life without them, they are our rocks, our family.

But what separates these people from the ones who leave our lives? What makes a best friend?

For me,  my best friends are the ones who are there, without hesitation, through thick and thin. Who will help me out without question, and who would destroy anyone who dare hurt me. Who I would go through hell and back for. They are the people who are loyal, who say;

“Ugh, she’s got so ugly!” Or “have you seen what he’s doing now?” Just to cheer you up. Or the ones who tell you everything will be okay, offering you a cup of tea to take the pain away. The ones who don’t even have to think about your birthday because they know you so well. Hell, you even buy each other silly gifts at random times just ’cause.

They are also the people who will tell you if you’re being stupid, who make an effort with your other friends or partner and know you have to wait and see for yourself if they’re no good. They are the people who never let distance, work, or life force you apart. They are the people you stayed up all night with, telling stupid jokes and watching crap TV, who even as you grew stayed by your side telling you the same  stupid jokes and reminding you who you have always been.

They are the ones reminding you of your embarrassing stories, always telling the most embarrassing first to everyone you know.

They are the ones that pick you up when you fall, raise you when you feel low. The ones who can tell when you’re lying, when you’re not okay, when you need a helping hand.

They are your home away from home, your rock, your safe place. They are your best friend and without them life would be downright dull.

So, to my best friends today I say, I love you, even if you can be a pain in my butt, even if you’re the ones making fun of me, I  couldn’t imagine my life without you. Thank you.

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April Fools is no joke for corporate PR

April Fools can be a source of great PR, showing your brand to be unique, playful and interesting. Companies such as Virgin, Churchill and Google are consistent players each year, with increasingly ridiculous pranks, each aligned with their brand and just believable enough to hook customers.

But, the important thing, as Google discovered today, is knowing where the line is and how to tickle your customers, not tick them off.

Many seem so intent on finding a joke they forget that, if positioned incorrectly, it can be detrimental to brand image. The joke must be thought out; aligned to the brand and the customers, it must work (looking at you Google), and it must be light-hearted, no one wants a joke that’s over the top or in bad taste. If it isn’t all those things then it’s better for a brand to just give it a miss.

Another brand that got it wrong today comes from that app that keeps dragging up your past, TimeHop, who today ‘tricked’ users by updating them on their future self. Whilst it was a clever twist on their usual service, what wasn’t clever was its implementation. The problem was that I thought it was some horrible new update sharing predictions of social media in the future. It also wasn’t at all personalised so many of my ‘future self’s statuses’ were not even close to things I’d say. And, the biggest flaw, I actually didn’t get that it was supposed to be tricking me because it so obviously wasn’t real. A huge fail by the throwback app in my opinion.

Of course, if done right, April Fools can have a great pay off. Here’s a list of my top 5 personal favourite April Fools jokes by brands.

Churchill’s ‘Éau Yes’

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I like this just because of the play on words, and it seems every person and their dog are releasing fragrances, so why not this dog? The fragrance even came with added smell insurance, promising to give you compliments if the fragrance failed to attract compliments from others.

Tesco’s bouncy aisles
I desperately wanted this to be true last year. Being a short person I know the pain of products on high shelves. What made this joke though is that they did acknowledge this was a problem but also conveyed how difficult it would be to solve. After all, trampolines down small aisles aren’t exactly easily approved health and safety wise.

British Milk Council – “Unicorn milk”

british milk council

The thing with this one is that they did take the advice of ‘if you can’t then don’t’ but yet still found a way to engage and make people laugh. The sarcasm and cynicism of the message puts a spin on the usual silliness and gives it that dry British edge. It also represents how predictable brands doing April Fools is now and the, almost forced, nature as a result. It worked brilliantly and has already seen them feature in lists for great April Fools responses.

Domino’s Edibox
Again, I think I liked this one because I wished it was real but also because it totally seems like something they’d do. After all, they really did put hot dogs into pizza crusts so why not edible boxes?

Microsoft Office: Return of ‘Clippy’
Many of us remember Clippy with a mix of infamy and nostalgia and that’s why the return of Clippy was so funny. People wanted it to happen but also remembered quickly how incredibly irritating he was. Perfectly aligned with the brand and spot on humour for the day.

Making a storyteller

I recall vividly my first lecture at university, the beginning of a 3 year long course where nothing would be drilled into me further than the importance of storytelling, where we were told that,

“Storytelling is intrinsically human, there is nothing we are more driven to do than tell stories.”

“Think about it. Each time someone asks about your day and you tell them? That is storytelling. Or when you explain how you met your best friend or significant other? You guessed it, storytelling. Or when you read the news, you bet that’s storytelling!”

But the story that’s really hooked me this week is the current Netflix phenomenon, ‘Making a Murderer’. Now that is sparking storytelling. Many have told the story of missing evidence not presented, many have told the story of their own emotions while watching the series, many a news reporter has told their accounts and told and retold the story of the trial and of ‘what happened that day’.

elitedaily.com
Photo credit to elitedaily.com

Another thing that is intrinsically human is our curiosity and nothing sparks that more than a crime. As humans, as morbid as it may be, we love a crime. And to make a story from a crime is simple. Who, what, why, when, where? These are all questions we ask when a crime has been committed and they’re also the same questions we ask when telling or hearing a story. So, combine the two and that’s how Netflix have struck gold with the series. We also love an underdog, I’m not sure why that is but a lot of us like to root for the little guy.

Every part of the story told plays on the things that engage us as humans, it appeals to our sense of morbid curiosity, our joy for being ‘sofa detectives’ and our ability to be completely taken in by a good story. And that is exactly why, I believe, the show has taken off and why Steven Avery’s January request for an appeal has been more successful.

But what’s interesting, and what has been criticised, is the way they’re telling that story. It’s, seemingly, one sided. ‘Portraying’ Steven Avery as an innocent man. Now say what you will but is that not the point of being a defence attorney? To tell the story from their side, to portray the evidence that could inspire ‘reasonable doubt’, which is all that is needed for a jury to (in theory) conclude not guilty. The show is clearly in a position of defence, they are clearly appealing for people to see the ‘reasonable doubt’ because their story isn’t every single fact with no bias, that would be boring, long-winded and, honestly, nowhere near as compelling a story.

Whether you think that is right or wrong what you cannot deny is that they absolutely know the story they want to tell, they know how to sweep the audience up and they know how to get their point across. They are successful storytellers. And this could be the very reason that, perhaps, Avery could see a retrial soon, despite previous failed attempts. And, perhaps, could result in his freedom. It’s maybe too early and too presumptuous to argue that but I think the power of the series has made many people interested in the case and root for his freedom, which is a powerful thing indeed.

And let’s not forget that it was the story told by the prosecution that got him in prison to begin with because a conviction is based on the trial, the story told by Kratz was clearly incredibly powerful too for the jury to convict despite, my belief, that reasonable doubt was present.

So, when told well, a story can change lives.

 

One charity is breaking hearts with this simple campaign

David Sheldrick Wildlife trust
All photo and video credits to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Hugo Guinness

Friday morning is usually a happy, cheerful event. The weekend is coming and I’m super chipper as a result. However, today I have found myself in tears, cursing some of the people in this world.

Why, you may ask? Because I watched ‘I will always remember you’, a devastating animation created for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust by Hugo Guinness.

See what I mean? I’m not even a big crier. In fact, I’ve spent my life getting quizzical looks when people realise I haven’t cried at any Disney movie, or Titanic, or Marley and Me, and no, the Notebook did not make me ‘well up’ either. However, just a few lines and a soft symphonic piece was enough to leave me completely heartbroken on a Friday morning and I cannot congratulate them enough for this astonishing piece of work.

Sometimes the most impactful things are the simplest and ‘I will always remember you’ truly exemplifies that. It’s not very long, the music is lovely but nothing you’d write home about (especially in these days of texting), and the animation is wonderfully minimalist. Each thing alone would be nice, it would do its job well I’m sure, however well is not what a not-for-profit strives for.

Let’s be honest, we as a race can be fairly self-centred. The biggest charity support often comes from those with first-hand experience of the charities cause, so, not being elephants ourselves and the fact they’re not very practical pets, it’s difficult.

Therefore, when a charity is trying to inspire change and make people care about something that doesn’t affect them, they need superb, they need haunting and shattering, they need something that really works, and this story of an elephant’s journey through life is just a great example of that. Using each element so perfectly they have created something that really makes people think, and feel.

Major kudos to the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Hugo Guinness!

Now, how do I adopt one of these poor little babies?

If you want to see more inspiring and brilliant not-for-profit campaigns the ‘Hope Locker’ from Water Aid, which caught my eye last week, is a great place to start.

Why ‘FireWatch’ fell short of being totally ground-breaking

After hearing a lot of hype and reading a lot of great reviews I recently purchased Campo Santos’ ‘Firewatch’ and here’s why what could have been the most ground-breaking game in decades fell short.

So, first off, what’s it all about?

It’s not your average game, you won’t face any villains or bosses and you certainly won’t need to fire a gun or brandish a knife. And yet this is one of the tensest games I’ve ever played.

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photo credit to YouTube Aug. 2014 trailer

Set in a National Park you (Henry) have recently abandoned your hometown of Boulder – for reasons I will not reveal – and taken a job as a Fire Watch. Your only contact with another human-being is through your walkie-talkie conversations with your boss, Delilah. You spend your days hiking through the park.

I bought this ‘interactive narrative’ game a few days ago and within one day I’d finished it. It is a pretty short game (what do you expect for a mere £14.99) but I was so taken in by the storyline and game play that hours flew by without me even noticing and before I knew it I’d reached the end.

I think the biggest hook of this game isn’t the interactivity, the fact that my choices could quite easily change my relationship with Delilah and therefore the game, but just the sheer simplicity of its parts coming together to create something truly emotive. That is really the game’s USP.

The storyline works so well with the simplicity of the gameplay and setting that you don’t actually need anything else. In fact confrontation with ‘bosses’ or other villains would actually have ruined this game and the often painful levels of tension.

The game thrives on confusion and the unknown and what better setting than a national park? When have you ever walked through a huge forest, alone, and felt safe? The setting, storyline and gameplay all feel well thought-out and each play their part in making a deeply immersive game.

So, after hours and hours of sitting on the edge of my seat, playing with baited breath, I reached the end. And here is where the game falls short. I’d read many reviews warning the ending was unexpected but that it gets you thinking about what it means to be human and to make choices. And that’s why the choices work well, the choices I made as Henry played a part in the outcome of the game and my relationship with Delilah, you realise that what has happened was because of the choices you both made. You feel like you really did play a part in the game.

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Photo credit to popsci.com

Don’t get me wrong, that is powerful stuff, but I just expected more. The tension completely fell short by the end and I was left with a feeling of emptiness, like a broken promise. There are so many other options the creators could have taken that would have made the game feel so much more worthwhile. The story just kind of ended, as though they weren’t sure where to go next so decided just to stop.

It’s a shame because Firewatch has incredible potential. It used interactive narrative, a simple story and a perfectly thought-out, and often beautiful, setting to create something with so much impact, never before seen, but just falls short at the end. Nevertheless, this game is well worth playing because I can assure you it’s only the beginning, but perhaps that’s its problem. Interactive narrative has been developing hugely over the last few decades and I think this is a huge first step in making viable games that give gamers that little something extra we’ve been waiting for. So watch this space, despite its flaws I think Firewatch has just stepped things up.