You’re my favourite…

I’m still a little bit in holiday mode. I’m struggling a bit with some hardcore fatigue and have given myself until Monday to get back into gear. I didn’t want to leave a gap here, so I settled on the epitome of new year posts; the round-up. My 2018 favourites, if you want to get specific.

I started the year reading what turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year. ‘The Love of a Bad Man’ by Laura Elizabeth Woollett is a collection of short stories that tells the fictionalised (based on real events) account of the women who paired up with some of history’s most notorious bad men. When I say bad, I mean completely evil. It’s dark, but so original. We rarely get an insight into the lives of women caught in the drag of historical men. These imagined tellings of their relationships and (often destroyed) lives is compelling.

The love of a bad man

My favourite beauty buy (who am I?) this year was bought early on too. It was a super cheap ebay experiment that had amazing results. I have long yearned for a dramatic winged eyeliner look. Alas I have never possessed the requisite skills. Enter my new friend, the eyeliner stamp. It took only a few attempts to perfect the perfect flick. I can now cheat my way to amazing eye flare.

Eye liner stamper ly h Kerr eyeliner flicks

By spring we were already engulfed in a heat wave. The Toyboy & I took advantage of sun & slipped off on a mini break. Kilberry Bay, Tarbert is just stunning. We enjoyed a few peaceful days surrounded by the most beautiful nothing. With a deserted beach so pretty that it’s used as a wedding venue and a gorgeous view of Islay, Kilberry was the ideal spot for a rejuvenating getaway.  I find the sound of the tide swooshing on the sand desperately romantic, thus this became my favourite trip of 2018.

Kilberry Bay

Summer brought more sun and No Shame. Lily Allen’s eagerly awaited fourth album. I’ve always loved Lily’s witty lyrics and wry honesty. No Shame ups the auntie on all of that, a lyrical description of the collapse of a marriage, juggling motherhood, work & living. All is laid bare with, you guessed, it no shame. Just lashings of reality. Each track pulsing with the guilt, hope & grit of life.

No Shame

I took until August to hit the outfit jackpot. The Edinburgh Festival was a masterclass in packing light as I knew I’d have to carry my back pack on the final day. Thus I had to think clever when it came to styling. I ticked all the boxes with this sheer/retro combo. I even managed to make my walking stick look almost cool in this picture. Which is quite a feat, believe me, navigating Edinburgh with a stick is not smooth going.

ly h Kerr Ed fringe

Last, but most definitely not lost least is my favourite day of the year. February 6th was without a doubt the most magical day of 2018. That’s the day my amazing little sister brought her adorable little man into the world. He has been a complete joy every day since. New babas to love will always be the best thing life can offer, so ’18 was a stellar year.

ly h Kerr baba nephew

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The first noel…

Now I know a lot of people feel it’s too early to be mentioning the C word. I mostly agree. I don’t want to put up my decorations or see Christmas dinner on the menu in pubs. However, I have a lot of gifts to buy (plus a tonne of December birthdays too), so I have to be organised. I started weeks ago, but I know lots of folk are about to get stuck in. It is for those ‘cannot wait til last minute’ people that I present my early Xmas gift guide.

I’m a bit mixed up when it comes to the festive season. I love some of the old traditions; I still send cards, I do not want pink trees & I’m definitely into a stocking bursting with fillers. On the other hand I have no time for gendered gift guides or waiting to open presents. Be assured if you give me a pressie before the big day, I will absolutely open it immediately.

With all that said here are some pretty picks with which to treat your loved ones. I have tried to cover all budgets whilst hopefully stretching across a range of demographics. I may also have thrown in a few items with a Scottish flavour.

Shall we start with the crimbo must haves? I think so.

I’m a fan of making my whole house smell like a cross between a Dickensian Xmas party & that stable the baby Jesus slept in. Fortunately M&S create those fragrances, package them up pretty & even stick a 3 for 2 deal on them. The sprays make a home smell divine. The pot pourri have equally delicious scents & also make great gifts.

M&S Xmas fragrances

In my opinion you can’t have a proper Xmas without a little booze or a lot of chocolate. My seasonal tipple is the delicious winter Pimms. I mix it with some ginger beer, but many yummy cocktails can be created with it. For chocs this year I’m looking to Fiars for their gorgeous vegan advent calendar & exquisite vegan boxes. I’m also very excited to try Vegan Burd’s new walnut whips.

Vegan burd walnut whip, friars vegan crocs

Next up are recommendations for a cosy cute Christmas. We all know there’s nothing better than slipping on some jammies & snuggling up to admire the sparkly tree. All of these festive comforts also make lovely presents.

Festive comforts

Stag Duvet, Asos Safari Pyjamas, Primark Grinch Boxers, Star Slipper Boots, M&S Velour Pyjamas.

Plus a little something that will make that tree really special

Bonnie bling still game de s

Bonnie Bling Still Game Decorations

Christmas is party season & everyone likes a bit of sparkle. Whether that’s to complete a glam look or soak in after one too many nights out, you can’t go wrong with beauty gift.

Lush is always a safe bet for smellies. This year they have some fabulous Xmas special editions. From minty fresh skin conditioners to decadent cognac infused bombs everything looks wonderful.

If you’re looking for something more personal I highly recommend Inara Candles. All hand

poured & using only soy wax they have some unique scents. They also offer a personalisation service, meaning you can add messages, intials etc to the candle label. Such a nice touch.

Inara candles

I’m looking to my old fav BarryM for a touch of shimmer with their amazing Unicorn Beauty Elixir & Liquid Glitter. Both can be used alone or mixed with other products to give anything from fresh glow to dazzling glitter. Then there’s the new kid on the block, Inglot. This is Jlo’s cosmetic range. As expected there’s a lot of highly pigmented products. One of the most Xmas gift appropriate is this vivid red liquid lippie with just enough sparkle.

BarryM & Inglot

Music & books have long been gifts I have enjoyed giving & receiving. It’s nice to have something to unwind with once the craziness of Xmas is over. These beauties are guaranteed to cheer up a dreary January.

Saltire Comic Book, Lily Allen’s No Shame, Challenge Accepted by Celeste Barber, My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen, The Beta Band’s 3 EPs.

I raved about Spunkrock Star before & I am sure I will continue to do so. Her sublime erotic art is perfect for any kink lovers in your life. Her beautiful portraits are also really smashing present.

Spunkrock star

If you want to make someone feel extra special this Christmas time I think Jewellery is the way to go. Rather than focusing on expensive fancy brand names I think you should check out these independent jewellery designers. They’re each creating breathtaking handmade pieces. What’s more your paramour will be donning something much more exclusive than anything you can source from the high street.

Oh Gosh Silver produce simple & timeless pieces.

Oh gosh silver

Chalso offer delicate beaded jewellery and silver work. Clean lines & skilful use of colour combined to make lovely pieces.

Chalso jewellery

Last, but the exact opposite of least is Kracken Jewellery. I have one of their pieces & I cherish it. Kracken have an eclectic range of designs. The incredible Gaudi inspired silver pieces are guaranteed to start conversations. Whilst the brightly coloured laser cut plastic rings will definitely brighten your days.

Kracken jewellery

Trigger bang bang…

Anyone who spends any time on social media will have become familiar with the term triggered. Over the last few years it has entered the public lexicon. Unfortunately, it’s meaning has been incorrectly implanted in the public consciousness.

Triggered is actually a psychological term usually related to PTSD. A trigger is an external stimuli that produces a very uncomfortable emotional response; most often panic attacks or flashbacks. However, varied symptoms can result from the triggering of a traumatic memory. It absolutely does not mean offended or hurt. I’m sure most people will have come across the correct explanation of the term. I have certainly witnessed many try to explain why using the term as an insult or a vehicle for mockery is not ok. Yet, the misuse continues. It occurred to me that perhaps what is needed is an accurate representation of what happens when a person with PTSD is triggered. Maybe if people understood the reality they wouldn’t throw the word around so carelessly. So, I thought I would share what triggered means to me.

Whenever I have been pregnant I have been unable to wear my regular perfume. I wear the same scent everyday in life, but some weird olfactory sensitivity means during pregnancy it makes me nauseous. Thus, I change it & the scent I wore I during my first pregnancy is a major trigger for me. Triggers can be anything & no one has any control over what might become one. I experienced a million sights, sounds & sensations during that time, most of them hold little power over me. That scent, though, is potent.

Snow patrol, blue sky

Formidable enough to render me a sobbing wreck. Being taken off guard by that scent whilst shopping forced me to run shaking from a book shop to vomit in the street. All the while struggling to breath & bring myself to the present. A nurse who had too liberally applied the fragrance sent me shuddering back 15 years. Leaving me so panicked I crawled behind a chair & hid. I stayed crouched on the floor desperately trying to claw my way out of the worst day of my life. Completely trapped in my own personal horror film until some kind soul got me some diazepam & did me the kindness of handing it over without questions. That heady aroma has caused nightmares so vivid that I’ve woken myself with my own screams. Dreams so painfully real that I’ve had to keep myself awake for days. Sitting in the company of someone wearing that perfume once contaminated me. On returning home I could not rid myself of the smell. Real or imaginary it lingered until I smashed my hand with a marble pestle. So tortured was I by the memories the scent brought to life that I ploughed that pestle into my hand until I broke two fingers. The cracking of bones a welcome jolt back to the here now.

Diazepam 10mg

Triggers are uncontrollable. It is not within the power of a traumatised person to select what reactivates their trauma. Nor can they choose not respond. Our minds shelter dark territories & they’re all one way roads. Once you’ve slipped in, you have to press on through. Being triggered isn’t a foolish over reaction. Nor is it the hurt feelings of the overly sensitive. It is the raw & brutal reality of those who have dealt with the unimaginable. It’s a battle scar on the brain.

I can’t stop anyone from misappropriating a word. Ignorance abounds. The only tool I have to fight with is honesty. The truth is that trivialising a serious symptom of illness hurts. It stifles the conversation & prevents people seeking help. It makes vulnerable people feel weak & ashamed & stupid.

So, no, I’m not triggered by your cheap dig. I’m just tired of the stigma. Very, very tired.

Fuck you, Fuck you very, very much…

New year, New You. Are you sick of this bullshit yet? I’ve been done with it for eons. Every bloody January the diet talk ramps up & the weight loss industry tries to convince us that thin is a magic elixir. Just when I thought I had seen it all Khloe Kardashian steps up with Revenge Body. Rage ensues. 


So, as far as I can tell the format of the show is as follows:

Person is overweight.

Said person has been bullied, cheated on, in some way hurt. 

This hurt was either attributed to and/or impacted on their self image & confidence. 

KK’s solution is lose weight & therefore get revenge on those who caused the hurt. 

Where do I even start with how fucked up this is? probably by applying the old maxim that the best revenge is living well. You do not gain power over an abuser by complying with their demands. True power comes from setting your own agenda. Self esteem is routed in liking who you are. Wether that be your physical appearance, personality, chosen work or lifestyle. Strengthing the belief that people must conform to specific beauty standards in order to be loved & respected is the furthest thing from empowerment. 


That’s before I even get to how toxic the notion of revenge is. If someone cannot treat you with the care that you deserve you should absolutely disengage. You don’t need to put up with any fuckwittage be it from a romantic partner, family member or friend. Ditch them & do you. Live your life exactly as you please. Spending time with people who appreciate you is healthy. Changing yourself to fit someone else’s ideal is not. Nor does it in anyway shift the power balance. Seeking revenge keeps noxious people in your head.  Fuck that. 

Which leads me to the most obvious problem with this concept. Body positivity is not about altering your body, it’s about changing accepted terms of what a ‘good body’ is. You do not need to lose weight to love yourself. You do not need to submit to diets & work outs to be a healthy, happy & productive person. The real revolution is in learning to enjoy the marvellous body you have. We must reject the assumption that fat equals undeserving. We must also exstinguish the view that our problems can all attributed to our weight. Life is complicated, wearing a size 8 will not conquer all your demons. However, tackling the ingrained fatphobia may just lead to a happier you. Trust me, you’re magnificent & there is a growing BoPo movement to help you believe it. 

inequality promises that it’s here to stay…

Last week I had a flick through glamour & immediately remembered why I stopped buying women’s magazines. I felt a rush of anger at the content. Despite nods to feminism (tiny footnote on feminist websites), the magazine continues to be a bastion of incredibly thin women, articles about the calorie content of food & men’s preferences about a variety of issues.
Let’s start with Dawn O’Porter’s column on women in panel shows. She expresses rather unhelpful opinions such as
‘Or a channel is brave enough to commission female- strong panel show where women don’t have to compete with men; the problem will be the same’.
Whilst I’m all for more female strong programming, I strongly reject the suggestion that women will do better when they are not forced to compete with men. Claiming we need men free zones in order to be accomplished is bullshit. Women can hold their own in mixed panel shows the same way they can in any area of life.
O’ porter’s next gem was to declare women as funny as men, but not as competitive, therefore females on panel shows will just sit back & let the men battle out it. Eh, what? Clearly no one has told dawn that attributing emotions & characteristics to a specific gender is sexism. These tired old tropes about the differences between men and women are feeding into our patriarchal society. When women are still telling other women that they aren’t up to playing with the big boys, we have a problem.
Next up, the ’hey, it’s ok’ page. This is basically a list of female gender stereotypes, but hey it’s ok, don’t worry you’re only a woman. This issue contained the following gem,
‘….to have mainlined a coke, small popcorn & cracked into the revels before they’ve even started the film trailers.’
Did you get that? It’s ok to eat. Absolutely fine to make a pig of yourself, well as long as you don’t forget it’s a SMALL popcorn. Girls eat small. Remember that.

If you can bear to read on you will reach an article named ‘pluck what?’ written by Luke Leith. This piece is handily labelled G MEN, just in case you missed the fact that it is written by man. The man in question first gives us a row for casually insulting men’s appearance. I’d suggest that if your partner is talking to you in any of the ways mentioned the issue is not gender based, but related to the fact that you are dating an arsehole. He goes on to give us a little potted history of gender politics in the UK. Apparently we are not-quite-there-but-almost (a sexism free society), phew, what a relief. Which leads him to his big point; all this feminism has hurt men. Men are now sometimes portrayed in an unflattering light in advertising. We women are just too harsh on the poor men folk these days. We must not hurt their feelings. Oh, those poor men. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think objectifying men or labelling them imbeciles is ok. However, the painting of men as victims of sexism is laughable. Reverse sexism isn’t a thing. It doesn’t exist because it is not institutionalised. White, cis, males still overwhelming hold the power in society. When the world is constructed in favour of your sex, sexism is not a discriminatory factor.
We are then presented with a guide on how to approach our partners about them balding, putting on weight o their sartorial choices. This is insulting because it assume that
a/ we care about those things, rather than, you know, loving our partners for who they are.
b/ that we are cruel bitches who would mock a person we supposedly care about
Of course what is most annoying is that a women’s magazine feels the need to employ a man to instruct us.

My next bone of contention is yet another piece by a man. This time Eric Sullivan tells how men feel about our sex toys. Why what men think about what we use to masturbate is even an issue, I don’t know. Eric tells us that when he stumbled upon his girlfriend’s dildo he felt aggrieved; he went so far as to accuse her of cheating on him with a plastic cock. Eric’s girlfriend explained that she wasn’t replacing him. Eric was of course skilled & competent in the bedroom. This made his fragile ego feel a little better. Nevertheless, the only way to make Eric feel completely comfortable was to involve him in the dildo’s use. So, there we have it, women have no right to own their sexuality. We must satisfy all our desires in a manner that does not intimidate men. We must consider how men feel about tools that are designed for our pleasure.
After what seems like a million pages of fashion, make up & advertising this issue ends with ‘dos & don’ts’ a page which congratulates celebs they magazine deems to look good & ridicules those whose clothing choices they do not approve of. Screw the sisterhood, eh?
Besides these troublesome pieces the magazine continues to perpetuate the thin is beautiful myth. There is no sign of anyone who even remotely resembles me. None of the insanely expensive clothes featured would be available in my size; larger women do not exist in glamour world. It is a world that is also predominately white, assumes that everyone is straight & that how we look is our main concern. All this from a magazine that frequently tries to attach itself to feminism, I despair.

 

Lily Allen Hard out here