Like the moon needs poetry…

I didn’t have time to mark World Poetry Day through the week, but it would make me sad to ignore it all together. I’ve been smitten with the art form for as long as I can remember. It has basically provided me with a literary landscape to wander around with my feelings. Thus, I must pay homage to some poetic masters & share a few lines of my own.

What better place to start than with Plath. I suspect Sylvia Plath is probably a favourite of every girl who’s had a brush with crazy. I actually read her prose before her poetry, but obviously fell hard immediately upon discovering her poetic genius. This is one of my favourites because it mixes prime fucked up Sylvia with some classic romantic imagery.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is new discovery, but I can’t get enough of her. Her work covers feminism & race & more. She gets right to the nitty gritty of the female of colour experience with both clarity & humour. I love the structure of her poems & the words she chooses to place her emphasis on.

If I Got Paid For All My Emotional Labour.

Maya Angelou is another writer whose poetry came second to me. I read her autobiographies first & once I had begun reading her words I never wanted to stop. Every single line she ever put to paper is so utterly & completely Maya. A women who knows who she is & embodies herself in everything she does is the ultimate inspiration. Her poetry gives me life, which I believe is exactly what she intended it do.

Which just leaves me. I wrote a lot more poetry in my darker days. It seems my mind reaches peak poetic prowess when in despair. So, this one’s an oldie.

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She’s in fashion…

I think I have that bug everyone has been getting. Or I just have the cold & my stomach is acting up. Either way I am vommy & achey & fevery. Oh & my period is trying to kill my uterus. What I’m saying is I feel shit, which means I’m up at 5am watching absolute trash on tv.

One of the show types I sometimes watch when I need something distracting, but untaxing is next top model. I don’t really care which top model franchise, they all have the same ingredients. Ridiculous tasks, a really cool outsider chick to root for, a total bitch, lots of folk getting way too upset about taking photographs, occasional freaky make up looks & even more occasional actual chubby chick doing really well (they always include a ‘plus size’ contestant these days, but they are very rarely actually plus size & they usually get bumped pronto). I don’t care about modelling, but for some reason I quite like these shows for grumpy insomnia fodder. Thus I found myself watching Britain’s next top model & having all my ‘I’m pissed off’ boxes ticked. There was a really annoying chick who had an awful tattoo of a gun, wore fur & irritated the life out of anyone in her vicinity. Abbey Clancy is getting on my wick & everyone has had a complete breakdown about having their hair dyed. It is the perfect amount of bullshit. I can project all my crankiness onto this pointless tv programme & for some reason it helps.

Then they go & ruin everything by making me rage. It’s getting close to the end, so all the contestants are really having to up their game. They’ve been flown off somewhere hot, hot, hot, stuck in insane costumes & asked to do something near impossible. Just for good measure they are also given an absolute prick of a photographer who proceeds to bully them. Let’s be clear about this set up. Some of these aspiring models are under 18 & away from home for the first time. The photographer is a professional as well as a grown ass man. When one of the girls struggles to deal with the tog & gets upset she is basically told to suck it up. The judges laugh about how this guy is renowned for being difficult & declare that part of the job. Cut to me, fuming.

Why should dealing with what amounts to abusive behaviour just be part of the job? Why are they showing female children being degraded by an adult man & then criticising the child’s professionalism for not being with ok with that?? I know modelling is an industry famous for mistreating it’s young acolytes, but actually watching it played out as entertainment enrages me. A huge portion of the audiences for these shows are young girls. Most of whom are not watching with the cynicism that I am. Lots of those viewers will long to get into modelling or similar industries. Even more will be looking up to super models, celebs & fashion folk who appear on these shows. What are they learning from this type of behaviour? Nothing good.

They’re seeing adult men behave like spoilt children & still be admired by their peers. They’re witnessing female debasement classed as the price you pay for success. They’re watching adult women schooling girls to accept abuse. Before you think I’m overreacting, I’ve spent the last several hours doing a little research. A variation of this scenario happens over & over. Girls are continually ‘tested’ with the difficult photographer, director, go see & the person pushing their buttons is invariably a well respected male industry figure. The lesson to be learned is always that these dickheads have the power & they must take the abuse with a smile. It is sickening.

This is the patriarchy captured on camera. Even though these programmes are fronted by apparently empowered women. Tyra et all are full of inspiring speeches. They purport to be about fierce women forging media careers. There’s lots of feminist lip service, but when it comes down to it, they still teach young women they’re lambs to the slaughter. And, seriously, FUCK THAT.

Fuck that

Operation BoPo is Go…..

I have been distracted lately. I have my taken my attention off the blogging ball, but for good reason. Much of my time has been devoted to launching what I hope will be an amazing organisation. oPeration BoPo is a body positive project designed to empower people to love the skin they’re in. 

The body positive community has changed my life. Discovering plus size bloggers & proponents of self love has allowed to enjoy my body instead of hating it. I really wanted to share that with other people. I looked for a body positive group/project locally and couldn’t found anything that fitted. So, I took a leap of faith and set up my own. oPeration BoPo’s first outing is an art event. The aim is to photograph bodies of all types & use the images for an art exhibit. The hope being that both participants & viewers will find beauty in all the photographs. 

I am a complete novice at all of this, but I have been surprised by own skills & the generosity of so many people. Our photo shoots took place last week with the help of amazing hair, make up & photographers. I have also been stunned & inspired by the models who have volunteered to take part in the project. 



It was incredible to see our models step in front of the camera & really feel themselves. You could actually see how powerful the experience was for some; confidence pouring into their stance. I have had amazing feedback from participants. It is truly beautiful to see my dream of spreading body positivity actually happening. 


Our first exhibit will be at Glad Rags, an amazing non profit thrift store. Our ethos happily met. The lovely managers, Bee & Ashley have not only styled some models with their fabulous stock, but have also modelled. The body positive art event opens on Oct 20th at 7.30pm. There will be gift bags, cakes & even some punch. All are welcome. 


My hope is to continue with oPeration BoPo. I want to create more projects that allow people to see their bodies in a positive light. I’d also really like to reach diverse groups especially those who would particularly benefit from the self love message. If you are local (I’m based in Glasgow) and would like to get involved please get in touch! 

Now for the money bit. Although professionals have very kindly donated their time there are still many costs. oPeration BoPo is not for profit and there is no cost to anyone who participates. If you would like to help me grow the body positive revolution, you can donate here:

GoFundMe – oPeration BoPo
Stay tuned because oPeration BoPo is go!

Women of the Year 2015

At this time we’re usually all having a last glance at the old year before forging ahead into the new. We often see best of or most shocking lists and tonnes of folk write their own lists of resolutions. Well, bollocks to the new year, new me trope. I quite like me & so I am summing up 2015 by laying praise at the feet of women who helped me to see that. We can all be better people, but you don’t do it by joining a gym. To quote my dear Mother, all you have to do is keep trying your best. Try to be kind, stay open to learning, say sorry when you’re wrong, seize every opportunity you’re able to, use your talents & always show the people you love how much they mean to you. Those are my ideas on how to be my best self, but everyone is different, you do you. In the mean time, if you need any inspiration, check out these kick arse women.

 

Let’s start with my 2015 musical hero, Sia. I love every note & every word that escapes her mouth. Her consummate ability to express both strength and vulnerability blows me away. Her music is clearly amazing, but what really excites me is her total commitment to doing it her way. From her unique take on keeping a low profile to the, at times, controversial choreography of her videos, it is all marching to her beat.

There has been much discussion about rape culture in the last year. Violence against women has a rising profile thanks to the dedicated work of feminists & professionals in the field. The problem of how universities in America deal with reports of sexual violence has been a topic of outrage. The actions of one student struck me as more courageous than I could ever hope to be. Emma Sulcowizc was raped in her dorm room at Columbia university in 2012 by a fellow student. The university found her attacker not responsible after an enquiry in 2013. Sulcowizc conceived Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight) as an act of endurance performance & conducted it as her thesis during her final year of a visual arts degree. Commencing in September 2014 the work involved carrying a 50lb mattress ( the kind used in uni dorms) everywhere she went on campus. Emma said she would cease the project if her attacker was expelled. That, however did not happen and she carried the mattress until they both graduated in May of last year. On her graduation several other female students helped her carry the mattress across the stage. To have survived not only the heinous crime of rape, but the further violation of her abuser going unpunished takes strength. However to continue with her degree knowing she may see her rapist at any time on campus shows true bravery. Moreover, to face that threat whilst carrying literally a huge weight in order to protest not only her own experience, but that of countless other young women, is beyond powerful. For Emma to open herself up to censure, attack & possible danger to make this statement humbles & emboldens me.

Mhairi Black is a testament to what a person can do when they believe in something passionately. At the age of 20 she became the youngest Member of Parliament since 1832. As if that wasn’t achievement enough her election victory for SNP ousted the Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander. At the time of her election she hadn’t even completed her degree, but went on to earn a First-Class honours degree in Politics from Glasgow University shortly afterwards. Black describes herself as an old fashioned socialist, which is perfectly aligned with my own politics. Her stance on welfare cuts & LBGTQ issues have proved her ethics & her maiden speech in the house was outstanding. As a Scot and an SNP supporter I couldn’t be prouder of this home grown talent. Having met her briefly at my brother’s wedding, I can also attest that she is very patient & lovely when accosted by drunkity fans.

 

My next marvelously outre woman is an all time favourite. Carrie Fisher is everything. Obviously she’s a cult actress, star wars & when harry met sally are in my watch a million times pile. Oh my, but she is so much more. Her writing is incredible. When I first I read one of her books I cried. I felt every emotion, I was awed. No one can write like Carrie Fisher because no one’s mind works like hers. Her words rush off the page is flow into parts of my brain that no other author can reach. Carrie is not only wonderfully eccentric, but also an outspoken advocate on mental illness, ageism & sexism. Her words are direct, but dripping in caustic humour. Last, but not least she made a hilarious appearance in one of my favourite shows, Catastrophe. Let’s face it this Hollywood royalty is the real deal, Carrie Fisher is genius.

Bree Newsome is an outstanding film maker & activist. He film Wake has won numerous awards and been screened at film festivals including Cannes & the Montreal International Black film festival. She has said that her experiences as a black woman working in the horror genre led her to activism. She saw that the space for Black women was so small that it wasn’t possible to advance without activism. In 2015 Newsome came to media attention when she removed the confederate flag flying in the grounds of the South Carolina State House. Removing the flag was no easy feat, she had to climb a 30 foot pole. She was arrested (along with a man police claimed helped her, James Ian Tyson) & charged with defacing monuments on capitol grounds. Within hours of bail being set, the $6000 for both parties was raised by crowd funding. Support for Bree’s actions was huge. The flag’s presence was of course repulsive and a talking point, but her bravery in taking action was inspirational. A lesson to us all that actions speak louder when words. The flag’s permanent removal did not take place until July after a vote that was no doubt forced by the media attention garnered by Bree Newsome’s activism.

My final wonder woman is fast becoming an idol. Luisa Omielan is a stand up comedian whose act is not only hilarious, but also massively uplifting. Her show, Am I right, ladies? is absolutely the best stand up I have ever seen. Her handling of body positivity, slut shaming, mental health & penis desire will not fail to have you screaming with laughter. From the moment I saw her grooving on the stage before the show to watching her grab her belly with delight I was enraptured. Omielan’s message is what I need. Her brand of feminism is what we all need. The joy of Luisa goes beyond her act. Her can do attitude towards everything is impressive; not only crowd funding her dvd, but also packing & posting them herself, acting as her own manager, creating the best social media presence and even funding amazing events. Luisa Omielan, if it’s not too creepy to say, I love you.