Why Is Regional Prejudice Still A Thing?

cheryl-fernandez-versini_1060x644I’m delivering a presentation at work and 2 minutes in, a colleague randomly shouts, ‘why aye man!’ across the boardroom table.  Everyone laughs.

As bizarre as this scenario sounds it wasn’t the first (or last) time it’s happened. As a person with a regional accent, I regularly come across a strange grey area of prejudice that creeps into my day-to-day London life and I’m certainly not alone.

A lecturer at Sheffield University has spoken out this week about the prejudice she faces due to her regional accent. When describing her experience of women working in academia, Dr Katie Edwards said ‘we can’t be taken seriously and have working class regional accents at the same time’.  I can totally relate.

When I first moved away from the North East of England, I didn’t even consider people would be bothered by my Geordie twang.

Fast forward 5 years in London and I’m working at an advertising agency where I have to grit my teeth as a company pitches the idea of using ‘the Geordies in a call centre’ to explain something complex to customers because ‘if they can understand it, anyone can’. In the same year, I would be called a ‘Pit Yaker’ and quizzed on what my grandparents ate. No, seriously (and when I gave my answer the response was ‘oh, coal mining food?’)

It’s worth noting that the majority of people who said these things weren’t looking to make me feel upset or embarrassed. In fact, they seemed to think I would find it amusing – that it’s just something everyone LOLs about over the dinner table.

The truth is that when people ridicule those with regional accents, I don’t think it’s simply because they sound a bit funny.

Fundamentally, the punch line is almost always poking fun at working class backgrounds, implying a lack of sophistication and suggesting we are of inferior intelligence. So, although I can of course take a joke, when this happens regularly and often in a professional context, yes, I am offended.

When I ever have (awkwardly) told them how hurtful their comments can be, they’re usually shocked – both by their own inconsiderateness and the fact that their normally friendly Geordie pal is now positively seething.

It’s still hard to challenge them – I long for the day I can just respond by saying ‘Well that was rude. You dick’  But, I doubt I’ll ever get there. Maybe that’s just the friendly Geordie in me.

First published on Grazia Daily.

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Inside The Inspiring Women In Fashion Event With Miriam González

Today, I joined a room full of fashion influencers at a school in South London as part of charity Education and EmployersInspiring Women campaign.

Chaired by Miriam González, Partner, Dechert LLP and Alexandra Schulma, Editor of Vogue, the event brought together over 20 talented women from all aspects of the fashion industry, together with school girls aged between 11-17 years old for a morning of career speed mentoring.

Opening the event Miriam Gonzalez confessed to feeling nervous about meeting the team of fashionistas who included model Daisy Lowe and Caroline Rush, the CEO of the British Fashion Council.

“What unites them” she said “is not just that they are all stylish women but that they’ve worked really hard to become one of the best in their careers”

Once the mentors had been introduced a bell signaled the start of the speed mentoring which saw each influencer share their career advice with the young women.

Obviously, I couldn’t resist a selfie with Miriam Gonzalez!

I joined in with Daisy Lowe who told the girls “I’m not just a model I act, cook, design and DJ. I like to keep myself creatively engaged as, as a model you often represent someone else’s creative vision.”

All of the women involved in the event have pledged to volunteer one hour a year to similar gatherings, talks and sessions to support young women in their local schools.

Fancy getting involved in the Inspiring Women campaign? From ‘first jobbers’ to experienced CEOs, across all jobs and professions Education and Empolyers is aiming to sign up 15,000 volunteers to pledge just one hour year to talk with kids about their job/career in a local school. You can register online here.

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Hang On, Does EVERYONE Have Two Sets Of Bed Linen?

UntitledI just got engaged and I feel SO grown up. Flicking through a bridal magazine (that also doubles up as a 1950’s ‘how to be a good wife’ guide) I can’t believe just how much of an adult I really am.

I’m aware that a few weeks shy of my 28th birthday I probably should have transitioned into feeling like a grown up a few years ago – that way I wouldn’t have to cringe when people point out that I’m tottering along the edge of my fertility peak.

Whatever, I’m still SO young. I’ve really got the balance right, I tell myself.

This week, whilst enjoying a couple of days off I set about actually cleaning my flat after a month of rejection in favour of working. I even polished.

After another tireless day of tidying I was getting ready for bed.

My fiancé yelped from the bedroom. ‘You know when we’re married, we’re going to have to grow up!’

HARK! What is this nonsense?

I appear from the bathroom in my University netball jumper that I’m wearing for bed (want a North London flat in Zone 1 that doesn’t mean you have to turn tricks to afford the rent? You must accept windows that don’t close properly. Brrr!)

‘How are we not grown up?’ I ask peering at my beloved currently lying on a linen-less duvet with the spare duvet wrapped around him. ‘We can’t go through life with one set of bed linen. At least not when we eventually live near family or friends that pop round unexpectedly’

‘Oh, yeah’ I say glancing at the bed linen limply drying on a clotheshorse I’ve had, again, since university. (There isn’t any outdoor space and the breeze from the gappy windows keeps them smelling FRESH)

As I return to the bathroom contemplating whether it’s worth buying another linen set, I notice that I still have towels from 5 years ago (they’re from frigging John Lewis and they kind of double up as a nice exfoliator)

After a moment of panic that I’m not as grown up as I think, I soothe myself in the fact that, as usual, my best pals from University will be in the same boat. I consult WhatsApp and ask; does everyone have 2 sets of bed linen? A unanimous ‘um, yes you scrubber’ is the reply. Then it hits me…

Out of the 5 of us in the WhatsApp group 4 have houses WITH gardens. 2 have children and/or are pregnant. 1 is renovating the house she owns and I’m the only one living in London with my scabby towels and only one set of bed linen. The conversation takes on new life as they recommend Dunelm and tell me to invest.

‘BUT I’M TOO YOUNG TO WORRY ABOUT THAT KINDA SHITE’ I plead.

I can’t read the rest. I’m looking at my life in a new light. I basically live in a student flat. But it’s just me and my fiancé and I only have two pans. There are 3 stripes of paint on the wall from when we first moved in and then decided we weren’t adding value to someone else’s property. We only really own a TV and a picture of Beyoncé that hangs over the random mark on the wall!?

But we have loads of books? Like LOADS. And the fish shower curtain. Yes, the shower curtain. We’ll always have that.

Just as the sight of my fish shower curtain with matching nautical boat bathroom accessories begins to calm me, I look back at my phone, which has a stern message for me. ‘Holly!’ it reads ‘you can still be young and have a spare duvet set that doesn’t scratch you when you roll over.’

I get into bed (well on to the everyday duvet minus linen and under the ‘guest’ duvet that doesn’t cover our toes)

‘What’s up?’ Asks fiancé. I note that he’s wearing his University cricket tracksuit bottoms and it makes me smile.

But then I get serious.

‘Look, I think we need tell people we want vouchers for an engagement present.’

‘Ok. For where?‘

‘Dunelm’ I say pulling up the hood on my hoody.

 

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Reasons To Love And Hate London

giphyI came to London with a few suitcases, a purse full of cash and an internship at a magazine. I had no place to live, no family nearby and all but two friends in the city. The silver lining in all this came in the form of the Boots points I had accrued meaning I could treat myself to a yoghurt for breakfast every day of that internship. Good times.

The first month of my stay in the Big Smoke saw me frantically pound the pavement looking for a home and a job that paid more than expenses. I suffered at the hands of many a Gumtree scam, I slept in hotels* and made friends with owners of every internet cafe in town.

*Rooms in Kings Cross with mattresses and a kettle.

Despite my relentless enthusiasm for the FACT I was going to be a London resident and work at some fabulous media establishment – I ended up temping for the NHS in a darkened room booking appointments for cancer patients.

Yet, even though I’m actually of average intelligence and could see that moving to London in a recession was not the wisest choice – I was always hungry for more.

Eventually, I managed to worm and squeeze my way into the jobs I really wanted by developing a thick skin and an odd appreciation for enforced recruitment freezes. Not being able to hire someone above me meant that I could work two jobs and show how mint I really was. And before you know it, I was buying my food shop at Sainsbury’s and living in N1. I MADE IT!

Now however, I’m nearing my 28th birthday and everyone I know – who shared the same appetite for London living – is either throwing in the towel or moaning about how truly awful it is.

This got me thinking – drum roll for the Carrie Bradshaw style question- does life in London, when you’re not actually from London, have an expiration date? And if it does, what happens when you choose to stay and continue to live your life with a face full of blackheads and an irrational abhorrence for slow walkers?

Dear friends, I do not have the answer I’m afraid because every moan and whinge is justified. But with every negative characteristic mother London has, she possesses a truly fantabolous one too. In order to suppress my guilt at joining the other London haters, I bring to you just that. A grim reality of London life coupled with a positive one …

  • You will, at some point, sob uncontrollably on the tube and no one will even look up.
  • You can be, wear and do whatever the hell you like and no one can be arsed enough to judge you. They won’t even look at you out of fear of being impolite.
  • You will never come out of your overdraft unless you work in the business district. Every line of your bank statement will either be; a £12 after-work cocktail, an £8 Pret lunch or a taxi fare.
  • If you are savvy and brave enough you can get public transport EVERYWHERE. No car tax or parking for you, oh no!
  • You witness humanity at its worse on the Northern line come Monday morning. Before 8am, the well-to-do yuppies below the river lose their shit and will elbow, face push or actually step on you just to meet their morning target of nestling inside an armpit on their 20 minute journey to work.
  • You make friends with so many different people that the restaurant table on your birthday gives the impression you enforced an equal opportunity quota upon recruiting your pals.
  • At some point you will pay £15 for one ticket to the cinema.
  • You will see celebrities. IN THE FLESH. Ones that you know will impress. You know those friends you have on Facebook but haven’t spoken to since primary school? Them. They will be SO proud of you.
  • You will get heart palpitations from too much coffee.
  • You can be an absolute freak of nature but I guarantee you, your people are here.
  • You will be offered drugs and touched, without invitation, by one of the following; someone that should be in bed before the watershed, a work colleague or a bouncer.
  • You will blag yourself into somewhere so FAB you can ride off re-telling the story for life.
  • You will develop a hatred for cyclists, cars or bus drivers.
  • A bus comes every minute. Do not forget what a joy that really is.
  • You will spend 70% of your salary on rent.
  • You can be a selective tourist. Some days you’re a Landaner others you just go all out and step inside the map.
  • From Boxing Day onwards, if you visit Oxford Street you will be faced with more heat, pollution and evilness than is normally reserved for the depths of hell.
  • London is cool. And you know it.
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What Are You Worth? Sign Grazia’s Equal Pay Campaign!

Imagine this, it’s November 4th and your boss calls you into the office ‘Hey there, due to your vagina you won’t be getting paid until January. So you’re working for free and that guy over there – yeah, the one that does the same job – well we’re still going to pay him.”

Would you stand for that? Well that’s essentially what the pay divide means for women in the UK.

What about if you and your male college, both in management roles, were given a bonus for all your tireless hard work and you were given £3,000 whilst the guy was given £6,400?

Would you speak up? Would you even know?

There are so many reasons contributing to the pay divide; motherhood, paternity leave, esteem and just plain old sexism. All of which we need to tackled but the overriding issue is surely, transparency.

I know that I have experienced sexism in the work place and I know I’ve held back when I should have spoken up.

I’ve been told to flirt with client on a work engagement, I’ve been told I was on a pitch just to even out the male to female ratio (eye twitch), I’ve sat in silence whilst male colleagues have taken credit for my work and I’ve been labelled too emotional in reaction to a work issue which was only dealt with when experienced by, you guessed it, a male colleague. These things, to me at least, were experiences I feel I’ve either tackled or learned from.

However, when it comes to cold hard cash I’m a bit lost. I know the statistics, I know it’s not great for women in general but personally I’ve never really known how much cash my work peers are on. And it’s not because I haven’t asked (I have, it was awkward)

According to figures based on the Office of National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Incomes, the pay gap between men and women in their twenties has DOUBLED since 2010.

I’m nearing the end of my twenties now and I’m looking on to my thirties which again is an age group where the pay gap has also increased from 11.9% to 12%.  It’s scary and demotivating to contemplate that we’re still in this state of inequality alas, here we are.

Again, the key for both men and women is to have transparency. That’s why Grazia have launched a petition calling for a piece of Labour legislation – Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 – to be enforced.

Basically, it will mean that companies with staff of more than 250 people will have to publish anonymised details about the hourly pay of men and women they employ. Which means you would be able to see if you were being paid less than your male colleagues and given the opportunity to speak up.

I believe that the issues we have are so ingrained that employers don’t always realise the affect it has on women. So this move is a chance for every party to become more aware. The more conscious we are of the almost habitual inequality we project on to men and women, the more opportunity we will have to change it.

Grazia need 100,000 signatures to make take this to Parliament. So please, sign, share and speak up.

Tweet your experiences to #WhatImWorth and add your name to the petition here. 

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I’m…you know…’northern, northern’

I’m so over pretending insulting me because I’m Northern is ok.

Now I’m not talking about the mocking of accents per say. Sometimes, it’s lols and definitely acceptable.

There are also times when I’ve been to blame, for example, I now accept (9 years after leaving London) that:

  1. A)     Tret is not a word
  2. B)     ‘Gunna get wrong’ is not a universal expression

I don’t really mind if you assume I’m poor and I’m cool with people shouting ‘BYKER GROVE MAN’ at me. I’d say I was pretty easy going…

But there are some things I’ve experienced that I do not accept. And they’re not, I repeat, not…lols. Alas, when they happened I was too EMBARRASSED to say anything and I should of.

So I’m making amends. Here’s my open letter to you. Perhaps you might understand why my eye began to twitch or at the very least, I’ve been able to say my piece:

  • It was my first week of work and you called me a Pit Yacker. I didn’t want to be confrontational, so I wrote this poem for you for Caitlin Moran’s blog. Passive aggressive or what?!
  • When you asked, out of interest, what my grandparents liked to eat (WHO ASKS THAT!?!) I replied and you said ‘basically coal miner’s food?’ Yes, I intentionally stabbed my fork a bit too hard into your Pan-Asian cuisine.
  • When you said that even though I might be more intelligent than you, people would still assume you’re the intellectual one because of the way I talk – I did internally a) question if you were a Victorian and b) wondered if you meant EQ not just IQ because you sounded like a dickhead.
  • When I sat in a meeting, your company proposed the idea that we use ‘the Geordie’s in a call centre’ to explain something complex to customers as “if they can understand it, anyone can” I was insulted. When it was my turn to speak and you detected my Northern twang, my face nearly melted off at your embarrassment.
  • When I came over to introduce myself to you and your friend at a party (because you looked like you were both a bit left out in the corner) and you said to your friend, a little too loudly, ‘Yeah she is but she’s a bit of a Chav’ I wanted to cry a little bit.
  • When I explained that I didn’t go to private school and you said ‘well obviously. Do they even have private schools up North?’ I wanted to empty my wine glass in your FACE.
  • When you said the difference between me and you was that because of your speaking voice you could call the Ivy and get a table for your boss and I couldn’t…I had to bite my tongue because a quick ‘difference is babes, I’ll be having lunch at the Ivy not calling for someone else’ would have made you look, and feel, like THE BERK THAT YOU ARE – and that just isn’t my vibe maaaan.
  • When you were slagging off the house of our mutual friend from Sheffield and said she was ‘really Northern’ I tried to point out that my hometown was a lot further North. You said yeah but she’s like ‘Northern, Northern’ I still don’t know what you meant.

It wasn’t through lack of wit, I just didn’t know how else to respond without sounding rude because really, I don’t think you actually intended to make me embarrassed/insulted/eye-twitchy…

This was supposed to be a bit of a funny list but it’s made me a bit sad actually.

 

 

 

 

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No fear of failing. A trait of our generation?

“You get everything you go for!” My amazing Mum is applauding my recent job success. I don’t want to disappoint, so I just bask in her tirade of praise.

The truth is I’ve definitely NOT got every job I’ve gone for.  I’ve failed more than I have succeeded yet I’ve never felt like a failure.

Obviously, it’s no bad thing that I don’t feel like THE BIG FAT FAILURE I AM –but why, when I’ve been falling flat on my face for most of my twenties?

I graduated as the recession hit, impeccable timing. My internship at a magazine ended and after living in the not-so-homely bedsits of Kings Cross I had to find a job, any job. After spending hours and £££s in internet cafes, sending 1000s of unanswered letters, applications and prepping for weird  meetings that turned out to be scams – I was about ready to give up.

Wandering the streets of Camden after treating myself to a £7, second hand coat – I was contemplating returning to the North East as the unconquering heroine. Spontaneously, I walked into a REED recruitment office. Fortunately, they either had a slot to fill or took pity on my desperate introduction of ‘I’ll pretty much do anything’ and gave me a temping job for the NHS.

6 months later, still grateful but basically working in a windowless hole in the basement of a hospital, I put my middle finger up at London and went travelling until it sorted itself out.

Upon returning to the UK things did seem slightly better but there was still that time I took the megabus, or as I’ve come to call it, the thrombosis express, the 9 hours to London for a job interview at an Investment Bank (don’t ask) only to be told as I pulled into the pick up at Milton Keynes that the position had been filled internally.

My inner monologue was flipping the fuck out as I fantasised about throwing my (borrowed) brief case at my plump travel companion – who I’d shared my fruit pastels with and until now, had forgiven the fact he had taken up 50% of my chair as well as his own.

Face squished against the breathy window I sulked silently for an hour before finding a grateful thought or three.

  1. I would never, ever be happy at an Investment Bank given it had nothing to do with journalism/I cried all the way through my Maths GCSE.
  2. My new suit I’d picked up for £50 in Vietnam had ripped in the arse (Western carbs) so silver lining was I prob wouldn’t need to replace it now. BECAUSE I’LL BE ON THE DOLE FOREVER!
  3.  Every other person my age was going through a very similar situation -making for hilarious storytelling.

Since then, I’ve consistently applied for thousands of jobs, even whilst in a job, and of course been rejected. I’ve been on multiple interviews and sometimes never heard back (that feels good), I’ve consistently worked 2 jobs at the same company on many occasion to get the experience I needed, I’ve blogged, freelanced and volunteered to make up a portfolio credible enough not to always be the one making the tea.

Looking back it seems a bit ridiculous at times -but I’ve never considered giving up – even though that might have been the sane thing to do. (Flashback to lying in the dark on a studio flat floor after the electricity meter ran out)

I’ve never thought of myself as a failure yet failed over and over again…but I’m not alone. Although there’s of course many people who have done similar things, I think thick skin in particular is a mutually defining feature of our generation.

Whilst the rest of the world criticises (kiss my ass Jeremy Paxman) or pity’s us- I’m thinking it’s something to be proud of.

No fear of failing means not trying is not an option. We might not be able to buy a house but we are brave and grateful -which is a kind of credit we’re yet to be recognised for.

Why I’m a Feminist

We_Can_Do_It!I was 14 years old in my English class when we were asked to write a response to an article.

It was from an education body that were planning on changing the GCSE coursework to exam ratio in reaction to the girls repeatedly outperforming the boys.

If I remember correctly, it said some other stuff too but it was the first I had been aware of gender inequality.  Or rather, inequality that directly affected me.

Nerves were nonexistent as I stuck my hand up to read my response. All I could think was that I wanted to say the words aloud. The geeky girl at the front of the class whooped (later, as a thank you, I would throw my copy of the Handmaid’s Tale at a bully who picked on her) the boys rolled their eyes and the teacher smirked happily.

From then on I began noticing everyday sexism and gender inequality that completely baffled my young brain. One day, after learning about how us ladies had got the vote, I felt so much rage that I tried to bleach the words Suffragettes into a pink t-shirt. Upon discovering me nearly in tears (the bleach ran and made the t-shirt yellow) My Dad said ‘You know, it’s ok if you’re a lesbian?’

Good old Pops.

Still, at that point ‘real’ sexism seemed like a far away problem. But as I got older, went to University and later moved to London I learnt that the UK is still a long way from equality. I was so passionate about the issues surrounding female inequality that when I was asked if I was a Feminist I felt relief to be able to say, YES!

Feminism groups together all of my beliefs, identifies my attitudes and gives me the freedom to explore things that in regular life are taboo. It’s an ideology that is constantly evolving and expects to be changed. The only rule is equality, how we get there is up for grabs.

It allows you, as a woman, to challenge inequality. It gives me comfort and authority to say ‘I’m a Feminist’ but it’s not always the easiest thing to say or talk about. It can be the instant reaction of some to physically recoil.

One client at work nearly fell off his chair when I said ‘I mainly blog about Feminism’ After gathering his thoughts for what seemed like 5 silent minutes he said ‘No you’re not. You’re wearing make- up and have your nails painted’

The conversation, led by him might I add, turned into him telling me that where he is from Feminists hate men and all live  alone on an Island together- that reminds me I need to look into that island. Sounds like a hoot.

With that kind of reaction in mind, I don’t wear a t-shirt with ‘I’m a Feminist’ on every day but calling myself a Feminist does make me challenge things everyday which I might otherwise accept as normal.

Still, it can be awkward as shit to bring them up to people though. That I won’t deny.

How to…not feel awkward as shit and challenge sexism/inequality?

I shall let you into a little secret, next time you’re trying to build up the courage to bring it up, just say in your head…loudly…

‘IN THE NAME OF FEMINISM [enter your own line here]’

It makes the thing that comes out after it a lot easier and you sound less like the stereotype of ‘angry-manic-feminist- woman’ after already you have already screamed in your head*

*sometimes you need to scream out loud but be selective is all I’m saying, yeah?

To get you started, and to celebrate International Woman’s Day (Whoop!) here are some of mine.

IN THE NAME OF FEMINISM…

…pay me the same as a man, if I’m doing the same job. IT’S JUST SIMPLE LOGIC.

…can we just work on the fact that if I get raped and go to report it, I have more than a 7% change of persecuting my attacker?

…I would like a world where my children will not grow up believing that women are a commodity to be bought and sold.

…why the FUCK does Female Genital Mutilation exist?

…It is not ok to grope me, shout sexually explicit things or intimidate me just because I’m a woman.

…how can you say we don’t need Feminism when in the UK alone, 24 women have been killed this year of suspected male violence? (It’s March)

…don’t try to control my sexuality. I’ll do, wear and gyrate as I please. (and it STILL isn’t an invitation for grope, sorry)

…if tits are crammed into every advertising space going then surely it must be ok for women to breast feed anywhere they GOD DAMN PLEASE!

Give it whirl.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to use the Feminist label to bring these issues up.

Of all of the things related to Feminism that wind me up, there is one thing I don’t care too much about and that is being personally attack about the ideology of Feminism itself (and the scoffs you get when you call yourself a Feminist)

Not bov’d.

Come and talk to me, shout at me, laugh at me – I welcome the juicy noise of Feminism dancing in the air in any debate.

I didn’t always feel this way. Trust me. At first, I couldn’t understand why the idea of Feminism was being criticised or how a woman, who in the words of Caitlin Moran, wants to be in charge of her vagina would opt out of Feminism.

It’s a case of ‘each to their own’ I say. Forcing people to label themselves isn’t what I’m fighting for.

 

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Airbrushing Lena Dunham

OK airbrushing an already stick thin model so their limbs are unrecognisable and plumping their breasts until they would, in reality, live their lives on their back for fear of toppling over, is not a desirable representation of women.

The key is variety. An equal representation of all sizes, colours and genders. Although, we must not distort reality to create what is in essence, a lie, there is surely a place for; beauty, fashion and sexuality that doesn’t automatically diminish our feminist status.

We need to see our aspirational figures in the natural form. I believe this whole heartedly.

However, the fear is if we declare that acts of enhancing yourself or appearing sexually attractive to the opposite sex…or any sex…is shameful unless you are organically ‘you’ we may tip the scales too far and ignite more self-loathing (or is that just me?)lena-dunham-vogue-4

This week this issue was highlighted in non-other than the feminist icon Lena Dunham.

Lena Dunham has been naked on our screens for two seasons now (if you haven’t seen GIRLS on HBO you really must) . Representing complex and unforgiving young female characters, she has ensured creative control over her storytelling, writing and acting. The show is hailed as revolutionary and tells the truthful tales of 20-something women working out life.

Lena Dunham’s nakedness and true representation of sex has been applauded. We love her.

However, all of her good work was seemingly swept under the carpet when she appeared in a Vogue shoot this month. Airbrushed and arty.

Feminist blog Jezebel recoiled in horror and placed 10k bounty on her head. Well…10k to anyone who leaked the in photo shopped photos form the Vogue shoot.

Greed prospered and within hours the original photos were REVEALED.

Oh. Here they are… http://bit.ly/1debkv8

Not quite what they were expecting…I expect.

The photos of Dunham were brushed up rather than altered ( so was the image of her male co-star…) and Jezebel themselves noted the slight of altering frivolous asking ‘why bother?’

Well, Jezebel I applaud you. I applaud you in many ways but this, this was utterly stupid.

Our modern, everyday feminist Icon who consistently breaks new ground for women was subjected to scrutiny, her body bits circled and prodded like a tabloid magazine section of ‘worst bits’

All because she was airbrushed a bit? She wasn’t distorted, she was touched up. A bit like an Instagram filter…

Surely it’s ok for women, and men, to touch themselves up from time to time? Bit of make-up, holdy in pants, hair cut?

More women need to be represented, naturally. More variety, yes. But please. A woman who represents and promotes such variety does not lose all her feminist creds because her neck was ever so slightly elongated or she took part in a slight illusion of a Photoshop.

This for me, was the tip of the iceberg. More criticisms were thrown when Dunham’s face was the front cover and not her body. (See her response to that question here)

HANG ON. All we see on the cover of magazines is full shots of women. Body focus. And the majority of men on covers is their face tweaked but not altered. I’ve heard this debate tirelessly endured yet when Dunham is on the cover we assume it’s because she’s a bit chubby (despite many shots in the magazine of her full body) It may also be that we have seen her body…naked…a lot…in GIRLS and the magazine showing a full body near naked shot on the cover would be…boring.

Who knows. The whole situation is swamped with contradictions and accusations which don’t sit comfortably with me.

Women, I apologise. You are allowed to enhance your beauty, your allowed to be attractive your allowed to tweak yourself and STILL be a feminist.

Unfortunately, it seems you may still be held up as a sacrificial lamb should you dare to break the mould of what is acceptable representation. Of women…or feminists.

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Just an average walk home…

I’m average. I joyfully bask in my mediocre-ness.

Perhaps, this is why I think this might be an interesting question to ask.  Here is the walk home I have just experienced, is this normal?

I walk along laughing with my friend and that’s all there is. We say our goodbyes, and I head home.

Instantly, I’m assessing my walk home, the long route versus impending risk via the short cut.

I’m feeling brave tonight, why shouldn’t I walk home the way I want?

I choose the shortcut but its dark and empty making me feel on edge. I go to call my sister for a chat but after three rings I recall some old self defence advice; don’t take comfort by being on your phone because, the reality is, you’re distracted and make yourself vulnerable.

Right, phones back in pocket. Within reach.

I walk in the middle of the pavement rather than favouring a side so I’m of equal distance to each potential place where someone could attack me.

I walk quickly and look at a spot on the floor to the right so I can use peripheral vision. The shadows dance from the street lamps and trees above me.

I see someone coming towards me. A guy on his own, within seconds I assess he is taller than me, broad and swaying slightly like he might have been drinking.

I walk a bit faster but straighten up, looking ahead and past him like his presence doesn’t even factor in my thoughts- I clench my fists and make sure my facial expression is serious.

He glances at me and I don’t flinch but as soon as we pass each other I look down at his shadow. He’s turned around looking back at me, I can see from the shadow of his cap. He is saying something but I can’t hear what he’s said. I’m walking faster now.

I walk to the end of the shortcut and I’m nearly home.

I walk past a dark Land Rover with two guys sat in the front seats talking to each other, waiting outside a house.

I’ve already slide my house key between my fingers and made a fist without noticing…

I get to my building and head to the lift; it’s broken so I have to take the stair case. It’s ok, no one’s there tonight.

At the top of the stairs two young guys come out of their flat with their hoods up, holding their bikes, stinking of weed. They ignore me but I say ‘hiya’ and try and catch their eye.

The smile politely and say hello. I feel bad for being judgemental.

I get to my flat and its dark; I look behind me as I unlock the door and reach round to put the light on before I even walk in. My boyfriend isn’t home so I put my bag down, look in the kitchen switch on the light, run upstairs switch the bathroom light on and glance behind the shower curtain before going downstairs and make myself a cup of tea.

I’m exhausted. As I write this I feel like perhaps I’m paranoid or dramatic but its second nature.  This description is similar to every solo walk home I’ve had since I was 11.

In the safety of Durham to the streets of London every night, morning and day is the same.

I like to think I’m an average woman. So if this nightly tale/thought process is common place and my boyfriend recoils in hearing this unfamiliar reflection then surely, there is something seriously wrong.

This doesn’t feel, anything like freedom.

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