Tag Archives: features

How to survive Christmas…

24 Dec

A COMBINATION of stinking hangovers, monopoly wars and someone buying you a top labelled two sizes too big are just some of the things that we could expect to make Christmas a lot less jolly.

There might be presents, Quality Street and a good ole dose of Shakin’ Stevens – but like every Christmas episode of Eastenders – you can almost guarantee that something will end in disaster.

Whether it’s a death stare moment with the in-laws, a drunken uncle who crashes into your shiny new 50” plasma TV, or someone sobbing about the innocently-meant pot of anti-wrinkle cream they received as a gift – the chances of emerging on Boxing Day unscathed is virtually impossible.

You see, I’ve had my fair share of Christmas disasters to come to terms with myself. First there was the year when I dropped my father’s new phone into a mug of tea after claiming I could beat his Snake 2 score. Then there was the time when my mother made a disastrous attempt to cook duck instead of turkey – resulting in a rather non-traditional meal of Asda chicken slices to go alongside our sprouts.

However possibly the most memorable-for-all-the-wrong reasons moment, was when a cousin of mines drunken girlfriend thought it may be appropriate to karate chop him whilst wearing a full-blown martial arts get-up, (true story) resulting in him requiring a rather swift trip to the emergency room and a supremely bruised ego. They broke up a few months later and he has developed a relentless obsession with the gym ever since.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Christmas. I love the giving and receiving of presents, the frantic guzzling of wine and the obscure obsession with creepy-looking Christmas men who walk through the city centre on decorated stilts  –  making adults smile ludicrously and children scream in terror.

I suspect even the self-proclaimed Scrooges out there who think Christmas is all just a big money-grabbing scam have a secret fondness for the festivities, sneaking home to catch a Christmas special of The Royle Family on BBC One.

However it would be a blatant lie to say that surviving Christmas without some sort of catastrophe is going to be easy. In an ideal world, everyone would be grateful of their gifts, hard liquor wouldn’t cause people to pour out their past grudges and everyone would be patient on waiting their turn to try out the new Wii Fit.

Unfortunately this simply isn’t always the case, (I’m sure Phil Mitchell would agree) so it’s always good to have some sort of back-up plan to avoid everyone killing each other.

Perhaps one of my main pieces of advice would be to choose wisely when it comes to giving gifts. Yes, it is the thought that counts and yes, it is pretty damned rude for your best friend to scowl at The Idiots Guide To Finding a Non-loser Boyfriend book you bought them off Amazon, however please do refrain from giving gifts that could be considered either insulting, degrading or boring. No-one wants a car air-freshener for Christmas. It reads I’m cheap, you’re my own personal chauffeur and your car smells of a teenage boys football socks.

A few other survival methods include the following: feigning interest over stories from the 80s, using spirits as a sort of tranquillizer, cackling manically at your dad’s bad jokes, giving gifts in only cash to your teenage siblings, owning an ipad on of which you can watch your own festive TV programmes on, wearing a tightly secured hat when your niece asks if she can play ‘hairdresser’ with you, buying spare batteries, letting your gran have the last chocolate and finally – wearing earplugs.

Have a wonderful Christmas. And please, do try not to kill one another.

Hopefully then you’ll be able to make it through to the New Year.

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Should you let a friend borrow your clothes?

9 Aug

Beg, borrow or steal…

Someone's not happy about her friend borrowing her favourite new dress...

It was one of those moments when time stood still. I watched, open mouthed and disbelieving as my best friend – busy laughing and joking – haphazardly spilled an entire glass of red wine down my favourite yellow dress.

She had begged me to wear it out that night, promising to hand it back in perfect condition. But in the space of three seconds, it was gone. Speechless and fuming inside, I attempted to pretend everything was fine, that I would (gulp) surely find another dress just like it.

The guilty look on my friends face prevented me from having a major hissy fit, but the look on mine was visibly sombre. We made bleak attempts to clean up the stain with every trick in the book – vinegar, Vanish, you name it – before eventually admitting defeat. It was ruined.

So in that moment, it was the straw that broke the camel’s Topshop-clad back – the moment I finally decided lending clothes to friends was infinitely, a no go. After many years of hunting down “borrowed” items from friends and trying to shift food or tan stains from clothes, there comes a time when you must be selfish.

The traditional idea of sharing and swapping just no longer works. From Wotsits when we were 12 to party dresses at 21, my best friend and I have swapped clothes more times than Katie Price and Peter Andre have swapped public jibes. I don’t have any sisters, so luckily have never had to worry about one swiping my favourite Zara jacket, so before the horrendous wine episode, I had always been quite flattered when a friend asked to borrow an outfit.

One of the key benefits of course was being able to borrow her stuff too – yet even when done so, it somehow never feels right. You can’t help but feel like an imposter in her outfit – as though people can sense what you’re wearing is not officially yours.

Lending out clothes is often a disaster waiting to happen. Unless it’s a Primark tee or dress that no longer cuts the chase, there are some things (like favourite dresses) that you should keep greedily to yourself.

There is always a slight panic that comes with ‘loaning’ out your favourite items, and the uncertainty that you will ever get them back. I have lost count of the myriad jumpers, dresses and pairs of shoes that I am still waiting to be returned. It’s pretty doubtful that I’ll ever see them again, so I guess I’ll just have to mourn them along with the others.

Do I think anyone should lend out their clothes? No, not unless your friend exhibits the reliability of a saint. It’s just not worth it if it could potentially ruin a friendship, and believe me, it could. So the next time a friend asks to borrow your favourite dress? I say run. Run for the hills.

Either that or you could just clumsily sway a glass of potent red wine near her, smile sweetly and offer it in exchange of her favourite (and only) pair of Jimmy Choos. I guarantee she’ll never ask to borrow again.

 

Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Health?

9 Aug

Marcia from Desperate Housewives was an example of an extreme perfectionist.

WHEN conjuring up the image of a perfectionist, what often springs to mind is an immaculate, glossy-haired woman with a spick and span house and an impressive career to boot. However while many perfectionists may seem perfectly in control on the outside, on the inside they might be telling a whole different story.

I have always been a bit of a perfectionist. Whether it comes to work, keeping fit or organising work events, I get utterly frustrated if things don’t go as planned. To paint a clearer picture – when things don’t go seamlessly, I often end up a crumpled, neurotic mess. I’m not sure what drives my need to get things perfect – but I am sure there are many women out there who can relate.

In today’s society, we are continually met with women who appear to have flawless lives – the perfect body, husband, career etc. Despite knowing that perfection is simply impossible to achieve, it can be difficult not to feel inadequate when it seems everyone else is doing great.

It is not just women who suffer feeling this way. After tennis player Andy Murray’s tearful loss against Roger Federer at the Wimbledon men’s single final, Murray was criticised for being ‘dour-faced’ and miserable. However more so though than anything, I believe he is just another extreme perfectionist.

Now through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, people have the opportunity to create a life that they want people to see. Today already I have witnessed a slew of posts by people bragging about their great lives are – which is all very well mind you – but in my eyes, most of them seem highly invented.

The pressure to be perfect can be often overwhelming.  There have been many times in the past where I have felt like a complete failure if I haven’t got the job I wanted, if I’ve ate too much chocolate or if someone has criticised me. Drastic I know, yet I can’t seem to shake off the feeling that I could do better.

One of the positive things you could say about perfectionism is that it gives people the incentive to strive for what they wish. This is what I believe spurs my desire for independence and ambition. However perfectionism doesn’t always result in good, as a teenager I suffered from severe anorexia nervosa, an illness where sufferers usually possess personality traits such as anxiety, low self-esteem and of course, perfectionism.

Not all cases are the same – however studies have shown that a majority of people with eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression all suffer from acute perfectionism. Those who suffer from perfectionism are also less likely to sleep well and tend to work their bodies harder physically as well as preventing them from forming healthy relationships with others.

Having such high-expectations for yourself can also be mentally deteriorating, particularly when original plans fail. Perfectionists tend to berate and exhaust themselves to the point where they end up giving up, which can be emotionally and physically damaging in the long run.

If the above describes you to a tee, then it may be time to cut yourself some slack. After all, imperfection is what makes us human, regardless to what your Facebook status reads.

Is Makeup a Feminist Issue?

24 Jul

There are a lot of celebrity trends we don’t often understand, yet the most recent one is far more appealing, with celebs posting barefaced photographs online to help remind us of the fact that even the rich and famous look (almost) just like us without the war-paint.

When Holly Willoughby tweeted a snap of herself sans-makeup last week, dozens of fans responded by saying how ‘refreshing’ it was to catch a glimpse of her looking all-natural despite her usual glamorous persona. I’m sure most will agree that she still looked gorgeous as ever, yet it also struck a chord for many women who wouldn’t dare dream of leaving the house without makeup, let alone pose voluntarily for a photograph.

Working in the industry that I do, appearance is always important. Research studies made by makeup manufacturer Procter & Gamble have shown that a quarter of company bosses are more likely to hire a woman who wears makeup than one who doesn’t, illuminating the prejudice that is still on-going for women even today.

Since the discovery of Max Factor Pan Stick at the age of 15, I have never been one to stray from the slap. From then on, it has become my greatest ally and all-time confidence booster. Despite my occasional efforts to go ‘au naturale,’ I adore my extensive makeup collection. I love the fact that I get to transform a pale, sleepier version of myself into whoever I fancy that morning, simply with a sweep of bold lipstick or a spot of blush.

For most women, makeup is an easy way to instantly perk us up. Whether we’re hungover, flu-ridden or just feeling plain rough, we can alter this in the space of five minutes with the help of a few trusty items stashed away in our handbags.

We all know that even the most stunning celebrities only achieve flawlessness with a team of expert makeup artists on hand as well as expensive products. Makeup can produce wondrous results, so why is wearing it still often frowned upon? It has been argued for years that women who wear makeup are anti-feminist because surely, they must be doing it just to please men?

Celebrities such as Holly Willoughby, Rihanna and 90210’s AnnaLynne McCord have all been applauded for posting pictures of themselves looking fresh-faced online, with some suggesting that all women should do the same. However as much as I find it liberating to occasionally step outside without a trace of slap, most women express their independence through wearing it, which in my eyes is as feminist as it can get.

Women wear makeup because it boosts self-esteem and quite simply, because it is fun. To deem a woman anti-feminist based upon appearance, essentially defeats the purpose of feminism altogether. As much as I admire the courage of celebrities posting such personal photos online, I vehemently disagree that wearing makeup is all about pleasing other people.

Women should accept themselves with or without it, regardless to what the rest of the world wants them to do. Feminism is supposed to be about having a choice, and if that means fake tan and lashes for some, then I say embrace it. After all, not all of us look just as good in the morning.

DO WE REALLY HATE BEAUTIFUL WOMEN?

28 May

NO one knew who Samantha Brick was until just recently. The brazen blonde grabbed headlines after her Daily Mail article: ‘Why do women hate me for being beautiful’ went viral, with thousands of women hitting back that they were all not – by any means – threatened by her “lovely looks.”

Just a few minutes after her article appeared online, the words ‘Samantha Brick’ were trending on Twitter. Her arrogance invoked fury from the public, particularly her claims that a vast number of married men fancied her more than their wives.

High profile comedians and celebrities also mooned in on the controversy, posting cynical jibes directed at her on Twitter, including a tweet from entrepreneur and fellow Bankie Duncan Ballantyne, who abruptly asked her if the article was ‘a joke.’

However, the vitriol the writer received was once again taken too far by internet trolls, with one user writing: ‘Samantha Brick should be bricked to death.’

For a country that takes pride in its modesty, Brick committed a cardinal sin by declaring her beauty in such a conceited manner.

Samantha heightened the storm further by publishing a follow-up article the next day, which stated that the backlash she received ‘proved’ her thesis that women do not like other attractive women.

There is no doubt that she provoked a strong reaction on a rather touchy subject, but the question is – do women really hate all beautiful women? Or is Samantha Brick just utterly delusional?

Psychology student Lyndsey MacDermid from Caledonian University says: “Insecurity is one of the main causes of jealousy.

“Body image problems and low self-esteem from a young age can invoke jealous feelings, particularly in young women.

“They might see a beautiful woman and think that they are full of themselves and will look down upon them, in turn making them feel instantly defensive and threatened.

“Jealousy is a normal feeling, however I think the problem has worsened as women are constantly bombarded with airbrushed images of celebrities which make them feel more insecure.

“I doubt Samantha Brick is as secure as she claims to be. I believe the public may have reacted so strongly because to be fair, a lot of them were probably not jealous of her.”

Model Natalie Souter, 23, from Dalmuir also spoke to the Post about how an ex-employer savagely picked on her at work because of her looks.

She said: “I used to work in a restaurant whilst juggling modelling jobs from time to time as modelling doesn’t always ensure a steady income.

“I was proud of my photographs and excitedly told a few people in the work about my new venture.

“However, shortly after I mentioned modelling part-time, my manager began to make rude comments about my appearance – including picking on my hair, clothing and body.

“I overheard a few girls talking about me in work, laughing at my photographs and generally being nasty.

“After that they stopped inviting me to nights out – proclaiming that I must be too busy ‘modelling.’ It began to really affect my self esteem.

“I stopped wearing makeup, started to dress dowdier and rarely spoke for fear they would make fun of me.

“From my own experience, women are often jealous of other women who are perceived as beautiful. This shows their own insecurities but looks are only skin deep so it’s a shame when women act this way.”

Although it is normal to feel a pang of jealousy when Little Miss Perfect saunters through the door, declaring your hatred for someone just for being pretty, is just as shallow as refusing to be friends with someone less attractive.

So whether Samantha Brick’s unabashed anecdotes were truly legitimate – or just a smart move to get propelled into the public eye – she still managed to shine light on a subject that most women wouldn’t dare speak of.

It is doubtful that all women despise their genetically-blessed counterparts. We are able to admire beauty just as much as men do, otherwise we would never purchase glossy fashion magazines or find entertainment from our favourite glamorous celebs.

Regardless to whether we think Brick is just another self-important, ego-maniac suffering delusions of grandeur, while there are some women out there jealous of others, it is perhaps just a fact that we get on better with those who exude a slightly more humble attitude.

The Devil Wears Topshop

28 Jun

Stepping out into the big bad fashion world…

When Meryl Streep first stepped onto our screens as Magazine Editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, millions of aspiring fashion writers were chuckling away nervously, silently telling themselves “It’s not really like that, is it?”

The sheer suggestion that the magazine industry could be so ruthless, so scarce and so fatist, was almost enough to keep even the strongest, most level-headed individual from pursuing such a cut-throat career.

However behind all the chuckling and denial lies that reluctant acknowledgement of just how scary the industry may be. Although Andrea Sachs, played by the beautiful wide-eyed Anne Hathaway, ends up achieving her ultimate goal by the end of the film, there is no doubt that many magazine assistants in reality, just cannot sustain the extreme pressure put upon them by demanding (and somewhat terrifying) editors.

I can picture the number of fashion wannabes, sitting with a frozen smile upon their faces, secretly terrified at the possibility receiving such humiliating treatment from a boss. Hathaway’s character offered the perfect example of a self-assured writer, looking to get their foot in the door merely to gain experience that would hopefully lead them to a more self-fulfilling position.

Most young writer’s who have started off naively and over enthusiastically, will no doubt be able to recognise themselves in Andrea at the start of the film. Certain that she will never become like her superficial peers, sweater wearing Andrea Sachs starts off the way most aspiring writer’s do, fully concentrated on the end results.

Andrea goes to help herself to some Broccoli and Stilton soup in the cafeteria, but is soon shuffled away from it by  Runway’s Art Director, uber camp Nigel, who tells her the key ingredient in it is ‘cellulite.’ However as the plot begins to unfold, we soon see Andrea soon conforming to the lollipop-headed, designer-clothing clad, work-obsessed employee like the rest of Runway magazine.

Andrea is subjected to continuous put-downs and criticism from cold Miranda, who’s bizarre and humiliating treatment of Andrea causes her to almost have a nervous breakdown. In the hope of getting the job of her dreams at another newspaper, Andrea continues on, losing her boyfriend, friends and vulnerability along the way.

Although the film is supposed to be a light-hearted account of the day-to-day life of a magazine assistant, it will come as no surprise to many other long-suffering fashionista’s, who have given up their lives in the hope of making it as a successful journalist. As far-fetched as it may seem, The Devil Wears Prada is in fact, reality. The success of a magazine relies on the editor, who is indebted to being as ruthless and harsh as possible.

Perhaps the success of Lauren Weisberger’s best-selling novel, remade into a multi-million pound selling film, could be finger-pointed at the popularity and curiosity of such a career. Apparently stemmed from Weisberger’s time working as Assistant to Anna Wintour, Editor of American Vogue, the success of the novel was all too surreal for Weisberger, who will now probably be sitting comfortably in her luxury home, thinking how glad she was to have let off some much-needed steam.

I recall reading the novel at 17-years-old, unable to put it down, savouring every page of in-depth information of how the magazine industry works. However fast forward almost four years, having graduated and hoping to step out into the big bad world myself, I wish the book had come along with some sort of manual, or even tips on how to get my foot in there in the first place.

A career almost every girl dreams of (as often reminded within the film), to work in a fashion magazine is one of the most sought after careers today. It is not the pressure I fear when it comes to working in a fast-paced, highly critical environment, but rather the competition that awaits me in my bid to get there.

As I attempt to claw my way there, for any editors out there incapable of fetching their own lattes, I’d be more than happy to oblige. Unlike Andrea Sachs, I understand the difference between cerulean blue and ordinary blue.

Although a sometimes catty and outlandish industry, there is no doubt it is a glamorous one. One where I’d be happy to exchange a few boiling hot coffee’s for some Mulberry freebies.

So off I go, Elle magazine and a coffee in hand, adamant that I will eventually earn my place somewhere within the magazine industry. It’s going to be a tough journey, but one day perhaps I’ll be the one sitting in that Editors chair, furtively sifting my way through a range of competitors issues, collectively gathering ideas on how my magazine can do better.

One thing I know is I won’t be too harsh on my assistant. And I certainly won’t be ordering a Latte. I prefer Caramel Macciato’s, skimmed.