Kicking out the Kardashians…

I’m calling it. It is time to be done with the Kardashians. I’ve never liked them, but come on, they must be at peak toxicity now. It’s time to deflate that bubble.

Everytime one of their clan is thrust into my sphere they have done something gross. Asking fans to donate to a medical gofund me they could cover for less than they spend on a handbag. Private island birthday parties during a pandemic. Having a month long pity party because folk saw your actual body AND trying to pretend your woe was about female empowerment. It’s all sickening. According to Kim & co we eat too much, our waists are too big, our skin is too flawed, our stomachs too wobbly & our hair too fine. Don’t worry though, they have products to sell you that will fix the lot. The only thing greater than their wealth is their boak level.

Various adverts for weight loss products featuring Kardashians

Khloe’s latest has of course pushed all my buttons, but first, let’s talk about the Kardashian record. They have wielded their power almost exclusively to feed their own consumption. Despite having more money than anyone could ever need the continue to sink low for the dollar. Wether it’s selling dodgy diet shakes and waist trainers to impressionable fans. Stealing designs from all & sundry (including independent black owned businesses), trashing women they feel threatened by or the constant cultural appropriation, they collectively refuse to take responsibility for harm caused. Anything goes for these sisters as long as the price is right.

Which brings me back to Khloe’s latest tantrum. Don’t get me wrong, the crap she gets from the media about her appearance is horrendous. It’s hard to feel overly sorry for her when she has devoted so much time to upholding the insane beauty standards she’s crying about. Khloe has form. She fronted an entire tv show devoted to body shaming. Convincing people who have been bullied and dumped to shrink their bodies is not empowerment. Neither is insisting your body is the product of diet & exercise when it is completely unattainable without surgical intervention. Strangely enough painting yourself as a martyr because people saw your actual body is also not lifting anyone up. Following those hysterics with highly edited images you claim are untouched is straight up gaslighting.

They’re a group of women with a global platform; they could boosted amazing things. Instead they’ve chosen bolster the patriarchy & line their pockets. They’re billionaires making money promoting disordered eating to teenagers. That’s repugnant. Trotting out some vaguely feminist language every time your own monster bites is not solidarity.

Except when they have something to sell you.

The show was always shit. The opinions vapid. No one needs another example of clawing greed. We know better. We deserve better. Let’s chuck the whole gaggle in the bin.

Sisters in arms…

I’m tired. To the bone exhausted. It’s been a relentless year, like everyone else I’ve just kept trudging along. This weekend I hit a wall. I doubt I’m alone.

The convergence of Mother’s Day, police violence against women & the flood of abuse/harassment stories that women have been sharing was overwhelming. Especially when I realised how many similar cases of missing or dead WOC I had never even heard of. Women the mainstream media had little interest in. Women who in some cases haven’t even had their death investigated. I’m not shocked by any of this. I know this is the world we live in. The abstract knowledge doesn’t make each individual case less painful. When you combine one’s own pain with the agony of the collective it’s crushing. It never stops. It never changes.

I’m aware that I’m feeling all this from a position of privilege. I have more space & safety to process. The police would likely pay attention to my family if I disappeared. I know my exhaustion is relative, but god, it’s heavy. I wish it were possible to ease the heavier weight I know many are carrying.

I don’t have any new answers. I’ll keep writing to MP’s, protesting, amplifying marginalised voices, putting my money where my mouth is. It’s a struggle to feel hopeful at the moment. So, I’m going add to taking care of myself to that list. I don’t know what that care looks like yet, but I’m working on it. I urge you to take whatever time you can & give yourself a little TLC too.

Illustration of horse, boy,Fox & mole from Charlie Mackesy
Charlie Mackesy

Red Alert…

The discourse around Sarah Everard’s disappearance has been horribly familiar. The tired victim blaming about where she shouldn’t have walked. The same sinking feeling as the days go by. Duplicate faux shock from men when we recount what life is like for women. The self-same chorus of ‘not all men’. Year after year. Case after case. Victim after victim. It is always the same. None of this is new or surprising. It’s just horribly sad & terribly frightening.

Women aren’t under any illusions about the world we inhabit. We know that we aren’t safe. We’re scared when we walk home alone from the train station. We calculate the threat of each interaction with a man we don’t know. Fashion make shift weapons from handbag contents. The rules are ingrained; no headphones at night, carry your keys, shout fire instead of rape, call me when you’re home! We have been absorbing the message that we are in danger since childhood.

There is no poor decision making. We are simply living our lives. Avoiding all risk isn’t possible. No matter what complex precautions we take, we are exposed. If the journey from my bus stop to my house is along dark, quiet streets then I have no option but to regularly walk alone on dark quiet streets. We don’t have personal escorts, we can’t control who will sit next to us on the train, taking taxis can be cost prohibitive & most cab drivers are men anyway.

Dark,  foggy residential street

We know that ‘not all men’ are dangerous, but we don’t know which ones are. From childhood girls are bombarded with harassment. It never stops. Teachers & drs & bus drivers & our friend’s dad & policemen & strangers on the street & priests & guys in bars & colleagues & friends & lovers. Lots of women aren’t even safe in their own homes. We all have stories of close calls and false alarms. Most is can tell you about the encounters we couldn’t escape too. It is not a revelation that most guys aren’t going to murder us. Knowing that doesn’t change our real fear because often it’s the one you trust who will. The worst case scenario is a reality and we’re reminded of that every single time a man stands too close or lingers too long. We are adding up where this is headed when a creep makes a crude comment or gets aggressive when told no. Here’s the thing that not many men will admit, you know it too. You all know men that you wouldn’t want alone with your sister/daughter/girlfriend. You see those scary men shouting at us on the street and grabbing us in bars. Every time you tell a woman you care about that you’ll see her home or to her car it’s because you are fully cognisant if the threat. The more insidious of you get a kick out knowing you can frighten us without losing plausible deniability. Not all, but definitely enough.

I read a story recently about a guy who got a big cash in hand payment & had to take public transport home with the money. He was on high alert for the whole journey. Everyone looked suspicious. He second guessed his every move. When he relayed how stressful the journey was to his wife, she replied ‘ now you know how I feel everyday’. The solution to this problem isn’t changing female behaviour. Our awareness is at code red. Let’s tackle the predators not prey.

Instead of rushing to shout ‘not me’ men need to listen. They must examine their own complicity & learn what would actually help others feel safer. Challenge your gross friend. Know when your voice is helpful and when it is silencing. Let’s begin to have real conversations about getting more women into key positions. Our criminal justice systems approach to violence against women still needs an overhaul. Perhaps most importantly we all need to think about how we raise our children. The cycle must be broken. Too many women have already been lost.

Stone wall with protect your daughters scored out & educate your sons

I’ll be your mirror…

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. I’m preoccupied by the dynamics of my own romantic history, but also the societal norms. The things we tell ourselves, the advice we give and believe.

There are tropes I find easy to dismiss. I know you don’t need to love yourself to have others love you. Lots of warm, kind, excellent folk don’t like themselves all the time. Self doubt doesn’t make good qualities any less appealing. Obviously loving yourself is beneficial in countless ways. Whilst you’re working on it, you aren’t exempt from third party estimation.

I’ve never bought into ‘you’ll find them when you’re not looking’ thing. I found a few lovely people by actively looking. They might not have been forever, but they were good experiences. A couple I’ve kept around on a platonic basis. It’s always struck me as daft advice. The exact opposite of the accepted wisdom on goal achievement. We tell each other to put the work in when seeking career advancement, not to buy the first thing we like when making big purchases, practise hard to develop new skills and so on. If every other life enhancement requires careful consideration & applying ourselves why should we leave finding a life partner to chance. Sure, a meet cute is romantic; it’s just not all that realistic for most people. Very few things of value fall into one’s lap. Putting yourself out there appears sensible.

There are many more obviously problematic cliches. I’d love to bin that ‘if you can’t handle me at my worst’ nonsense. It lends itself way too easily to toxic situations. Everything happens for a reason is similarly flawed. You’ll drive yourself crazy with that one. Sometimes life is random & people are fuckwits, you cannot base decisions on chaos. Trust your gut is 50/50, lots of us have less than stellar instincts. Plenty of fish in sea, tonnes of utter garbage too. Love at first sight is usually just desire. We each have more than one soulmate and karma rarely gets involved in romantic entanglements. I’m sure you get my point. I’ve had my share of passion & I’m not buying the prosaic instruction.

If you can’t handle me at my worst, you probably have healthy boundaries in neon lettering

Or am I? I do find myself stuck on some well worn pearls. I can’t completely rid myself of the notion that how we feel about ourselves inform the partners we choose and how they treat us. Nor can I discount, we get the love life we believe we deserve. Perhaps these speak to my own experiences & mental struggles. I can see how that would make sense. I often think of myself as difficult. I’m uncompromising on many points, strident, damaged. I recognise I also have more endearing characteristics. Still, you could summarise most of my amorous affairs as complicated. Kind souls with simpler offerings rarely hold my attention for long. Out & out baddies are likewise swiftly disguarded. I learned early not to let anyone smash my heart to pieces. However, I will absolutely keep coming back if you make a riddle of slowly dismantling the pieces.

I think loving me is laborious, so I choose relationships with challenging dynamics. Can it really be that simple? I know my penchant for the fickle isn’t unique & many other unhelpful patterns exist. Believe me, taking all the blame isn’t a huge leap for me. On the other hand, wouldn’t establishing that as fact encourage the beliefs that started this? Confirming that one’s perceived maladjustment is the cause of failed romance seems to solidify those negative beliefs. That strikes me as sticky little trap.

I feel there has been a shift in the focus of romantic guidance we consume. These seemingly deeper insights are definitely well intended. I think we offer this advice because we want to protect people we care for & we believe it for self preservation. Having control is comforting. Thus it’s tempting to internalise blame. If you’re at fault, you can fix it. I’m just wondering if it all becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. When think we pick the wrong people and we accept the wrong behaviour, don’t we just lower our opinion of ourselves? I worry that just leaves a person open to more manipulation & ill treatment.

We accept the love we think we deserve in black lettering on pink background

It especially gives me pause because I see it most often aimed at women & people with mental health issues. It’s perplexing. On one hand introspection totally makes sense. On the other it plays into really unhealthy existing thought patterns. Basically I’m wondering if in the guise of taking responsibility we’re actually setting ourselves up to fail.

I’m in danger of going full Carrie Bradshaw with all the relationship pondering, but what do you think? Are there any wise (or not so wise) words that have had an impact on you?Carrie Bradshaw from s&tc with text ‘when it comes to life & love, do we accept our worst reviews’

Things that make me go…eeewww

Sometimes the world is bustling with things you love. Other, it keeps thrusting annoyance in one’s path. My current sphere is veering towards the latter.

The hype around the new Ivy Park x Adidas was as big any Beyoncé project gathers. The sizing was more than a little disappointing. It’s frustrating to see someone who gains much aplomb for her nods to body diversity fall down when it comes to her own product lines. Fat folk were, yet again, an afterthought. With small fats squeezing into a later release & everyone else ignored; only girls of a certain size run Bey’s world.

Khloe Kardashian tweet promoting flat tommy shakes

Sticking with the celebrity field (if slightly less A list) is the continued promotion of weight loss crap. Khloe Kardashian springs to mind as a repeat offender. Despite having more money than anyone could ever need, she’s still punting flat tummy shakes to her fans. A huge portion of which are young women & girls. Shame also spreads to homegrown reality celebs. With Lauren Goodger & others agreeing to promote a product containing the fatal ingredient, cyanide. She was caught on camera saying you didn’t have to actually use the products to promote them. None of the influencers involved in the BBC reportage recognised or checked how dangerous the ingredient was. Again, much of base they ‘influence’ are young people. It’s gross that people with a platform are happy to push products that are damaging to mind & body. The greed really does make me go eeeww.

In a less contentious space is the return of some fashion horrors from my youth. Foremost of my objections are hairbands. I really cannot stand those big, thick padded head bands. They conjour two unpleasant 80’s associations; sloanes & teacher’s pet. Both of whom proudly wore those clunky accessories. I’m sorry, they are just not cool.

Black diamanté hair band & red pearl hair band

It will come as no surprise to you that I’m not enjoying current wave of internalised misogyny. Almost nothing is more stomach churning that women shitting on other women. I am aware this is far from a new phenomena, but the relish with which its whipping around it vile. As my more progressive sisters advance an intersectional agenda the less enlightened are pushing back. They’re fighting with mean attacks on real issues like period poverty and trans rights. When I see a privileged woman deploying an I had to suffer once so you can too argument, it makes me nauseous. Turn it up to the full on bigotry of transphobia & I’m boaking. Rich white women need to do better. Much, much better.

Next on the fashion nope radar is another relic from my past. The return of chunky 90’s footwear is not pleasing. I hated spice girl trainers & rubber block heels when I was 15. My opinion has not changed. I loved so much of the 90’s, but these heavy hunks are not amongst them.

She put on her party dress…

A couple of weeks my beautiful little Madison turned 2 years old and of course she had a party. It wasn’t only the Birthday girl who needed the perfect party dress; Auntie ly has to hunt one down too.

I found this polka dot delighted in Monki. I’m taken with this colour combo and I always love a tiered skirt.

ly h Kerr, sister & friend holding their toddlers

Dress – Monki

Vest – Primark

Sandals – Next

The little ones had a ball with cake & balloons & bubbles. I snuck a little feminism into my present (yes, I’m that auntie).

Balloons, birthday cake & children at party

I can’t believe how quickly all my little ones are growing up. I don’t know where all the tiny babies went, but it’s just so lovely to watch them all discover the world.

ly wearing green glasses & purple lipstick

Glasses – Where.Light

Lipstick – Nyx

My dress always gave me an opportunity to break out this epic lippy. I think I pulled off the crazy Aunt look pretty well.

Let’s hear it for the girls…

It’s International Women’s Day again and we’re all applauding the amazing women who are soaring in all manner of ways. Whilst I am very much here for that, I also want to give a standing ovation to the women who are just about holding it together. I really want to shine a light on a different kind achievement. So often we overlook the strength it takes to just keep going on the face of adversity.

Neon together we will burn brighter

I want this IWD to be about the women living with chronic illness, mental illness, inequality in the workplace, trying to make ends meet, shitty relationships & everything else that weighs you down. Perhaps you’re not launching your own collection, pulling in 6 figures or living the insta glam life. That does not mean you aren’t striving and succeeding. Every day that you get out of bed despite being wracked with pain, you’re killing it. Every single mother who loves, feeds & inspires her child(ren) every day is changing the world. Forcing yourself out the door when you’d rather curl into a ball & cry, is winning. Steering your own course in a workplace that is designed for the comfort & advancement of men makes you a boss. All the women who have to fight stigma & danger to claim their womanhood, you are queens. Even if you were unable to wash your face or get dressed today the fact that you are still here, still living, still fighting is enough.

We are all Wonder Woman

*

We all know smart, talented women who are doing the best with the hand they’ve been dealt. That may mean that their successes aren’t as big & shiny as those we’ve become accustomed to celebrating, but they count. Those hard won achievements deserve acclaim. This year let’s hear for the women who keep their worlds spinning every day in spite of universe’s attempts to thwart them.

*Wonder women print by SaturnTwinsArtShop.

This women’s world…

I hate the damn patriarchy. I hate the structures that allow it to continue to function, the men who deny its existence and those who just close their eyes to it. I am tired of rape culture and wage gaps and micro aggressions and attacks on reproductive rights. It all sickens me. However, what angers me most are the women who refuse to join the feminist ranks. The traitors in our midst are worse than the enemy at the gate.

The simple truth is that women must fight for each other. Allies are great, but we cannot rely on anyone else to secure our rights. Although men may care about the treatment of individual women, the have proven that they aren’t all that concerned with our fight for genuine equality. Even so-called decent men exhibit shock when women discuss the nitty gritty of our lives and how misogyny affects us. If almost every woman you know has been sexually assaulted or harassed, how is it possible that almost every man in your life has no idea that it was happening? How can women be cat called, groped and demeaned from the moment the grow boobs and no men ever participate or see it happening? It is isn’t possible. They know. Just like they know we’re side-lined in the work place. They same way they are completely aware that women still carry most of the burden of child rearing and home keeping. Not to mention the emotional labour of explaining this (& oh so many other things). Our patriarchal society is very comfortable for men. Hoping they will tear down their own kingdom is naïve. We have got to have each other’s back.

Shall we start with the basics?
Other women are not the competition. The pie is big enough for everyone to get a slice. You do not have to engage in that ‘I’m not like other girls’ bullshit. Women don’t create anymore drama than men. Female bosses aren’t inherently bitchy. Slut shaming isn’t cool. Trying to distinguish yourself at the expense of the entire sisterhood is a stupid move. Everyone knows what you’re up to and almost no one likes it. You think you’re winning cool girl points with the men folk, but they’ll stomp on you just as quickly as they do anyone other chick who gets in their way. In short, don’t be a desperate pick me. It’s just sad.

Offer genuine solidarity.
Support other women in all aspects of life. Vote for the women who deserve to hold office. Consume the art of talented women. Shout out your friend’s endeavours. Fight for representation with your voice and your purse. Don’t judge women for every little thing. Stay at home Mum’s aren’t better than those with careers outside the home. There is no perfect size. Trans women are women. We’re all real and we’re all just trying out best. If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s worthless.

Actions speak louder…
If there is any chance of breaking down the barriers that women face, we must be prepared to stand up for each other in practical ways. We must be willing to stand with our sisters even when it’s difficult. Don’t automatically dismiss reports of misconduct against men that you like. Abusers (of all types) often cultivate a nice guy persona precisely because it makes their predation easier to get away with. Listen and be prepared to question.

Back female colleagues. Shut down mansplaining and the co-opting of ideas. It is so easy for a third party to interject a simple ‘I think X already covered that’. Do not tolerate inappropriate talk. Don’t laugh or ignore sexist ‘banter’. Be clear that you are not amused, and you will not work in a toxic environment. If you witness discrimination, harassment, bullying approach the victim and offer your assistance. Not just a shoulder to cry on, but pragmatic help. Go on record with HR regarding what you’ve witnessed, testify at tribunals etc. This is even more important if the woman in question is also a member of another oppressed group. Use whatever power you hold to institute practices that make your workplace a place that women can thrive. Then fight to have to those polices enforced. Protect and encourage the warranted career progression of women who utilise maternity or family leave. We must be willing to stick our heads above the parapet. Even/especially when we may be the only female voice in a room.

Do not reward collaborators.
This is very simple. Women who purposely back the patriarchy do not deserve your support. If they are willing to inhibit the opportunities of other women for personal gain, they are not worthy of your backing. Don’t vote for, align yourself with or rely on them. A sisterhood of women is a very powerful thing. Devote your energy to building and sustaining your own.

You know you want it…

I really want to write about the whole Kavanaugh debacle, but I find myself too filled with rage to be coherent. He is the perfect example of how deep misogyny runs. From the tired old ‘why did she wait so long’ & ‘boys will be boys’. To his openly disrespectful treatment of female senators and the hypocrisy surrounding how male displays of belligerence & tears are strong and riveting, whilst a women doing the same would be hysterical and unfit for the public office. It’s the patriarchal home run. The really horrifying thing is I’m not convinced any of it will stop his confirmation. We keep thinking we’ve made progress, but it’s lip service. Crumbs.

I am disgusted. And exhausted.

Someone else summed it better. I’m just going to leave this here.

For the avoidance of doubt, I Believe Her. Dr Blasey Ford is a hero.

Woman of the week…

This week’s celebrated woman is someone I have the pleasure of knowing. She is a bopo goddess, a thrifting maven, accomplished public speaker & possibly the bubbliest person I’ve ever met. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you Hayley Angell.

I met Hayley at a blogger event in Glasgow & was instantly impressed by her vintage look. I was also a little intimated by her polished confidence. I don’t find these events very easy. I have a lot of anxiety around new people & situations. I have even more anxiety about hiding my discomfort. The moment I spoke to Hayley I felt more at ease. Her sincere warmth allowed me to collect myself & have a good time.

Taking Shape blogger event, Glasgow

I obviously immediately commenced following her on social media and have done so since. Hayley’s accounts are bursting with life affirming energy. Her honesty about her body positive journey; discarding control garments, trying new activities & generally enjoying her body is inspiring. She recently discussed her experiences as a plus size women taking burlesque classes. Despite outward proclamations of inclusivity she still felt it was assumed that fat women would be less assured. She got the sense that fatter folk were quietly ushered into the background. It takes guts to be open about this stuff. Even more to be honest about how often we convince ourselves that we belong at the back of class. Thus, she used her Instagram account to launch #stepforward a reminder to all plus size people that we are worthy of taking up space & being seen.

The Body Positive community has given me so much. I always want to say thank you to those who inspire me. I also want to spread their work because I know it can bring others happiness. Hayley is one of those fabulous women who can help you change how you see yourself. She is an insta must follow.

Hayley Angell

*

Bopo aside Hayley is, as I mentioned, a thrifting magician. Her Instagram is worth following for her second hand style alone. If you need tips on trawling the charity shops for fashion gold, Hayley is your woman. If you simply enjoy seeing a person enjoy themselves & clothes, she is still your gal.

I’ve only met Hayley in person once, but I would not be without her online presence in my life. For a shot of genuine self love, go press those follow buttons.

* Photo credit : Hayley Angell