Female fashion in music

 

This is a topic that I’ve struggled with for a long time. On the one side of this debate a woman should be comfortable wearing whatever she wants to on stage or in music videos. It shouldn’t matter whether that be a tiny string bikini or a novelty onsie. On the other side of this debate, however, is the trend toward female musicians wearing less actually detracting from the message of their music?

Lets take the first half of the debate that women should wear whatever, whenever.

This debate is tied in to the whole catcalling idea that women ‘ask for it’ if they wear something provocative (the topic of an entirely new post). But whether a woman is walking down a street or performing to an arena full of people, they should be able to do it naked without fear. In practice this is not encouraged but you get the idea. Women get judged either way, if they wear something too tiny or ‘sexy’ then it’s inappropriate but  if they wear something too mundane (like jeans) then they haven’t tried hard enough. There is no way of keeping everyone happy in this world. So should they be trying to keep everyone happy?

I think there’s a time and a place for ‘sexy’ costumes and often female performers fall foul of this. Wearing a ‘sexy’ outfit that threatens to show your breasts or you female area to world at any moment is, I think at least, a tad inappropriate to wear to a daytime family concert. However, that’s not to say that female performers shouldn’t be ‘sexy’ I just believe there’s ways of portraying that without the outfit being revealing. Maybe that makes me a prude and the person with the problem? I don’t know, I just personally feel it sends the wrong message to young girls that for them to feel powerful they must be sexy and in order to accomplish that they need to wear revealing clothes and have their make-up ‘on point’.

The other side of this debate is whether wearing more ‘sexy’ clothes detracts from female musicians overall talent currently.

If a girl has amazing vocal talents, why does that mean they often don’t wear a lot of clothes? Surely, following the previous argument, they should be able to sing the same thing in jeans and a crop top, so why isn’t this often not the case? Why is glamour and sexy now so often linked to smaller items of clothing commonly bedecked in rhinestones? It does raise the question in some cases about whether people watch them for their music or their outfit? That’s not a question that I think should be allowed to be raised. They are musicians, it is about their musical skill but sometimes it does make you wonder and it does make you question.

I’m going to show my age here and hark back to the famous Britney Spears video and her cover of ‘I love rock a roll’. I can remember at the time news presenters joking that men were watching the video with the sound off just to see Britney in a leather jumpsuit on a motorcycle. So a lot of people, it would seem, watched that video not for her skill as a musician or because they liked her as a person, but as an object, an object of sexy.

There’s not an easy answer to that. Was it Britney wearing ‘sexy’ clothes and moving provocatively that got the video that reputation or was its people’s reactions? Is it both? Does it take away from her as a musician to sell her music in that way? Is it appropriate? Or should she be able to because women should be able to where whatever and do whatever?

I think a lot of women in music are perhaps not wearing things because they want to but because it’s the way they think they ought to be portrayed.

Someone who’s glamorous or sexy rather than the girl next door. We’ve all seen the performers in their amazing dresses. That’s why performances like this one from Alessia Cara (whom I adore as a musician) are so powerful:

Look at how much the confidence changes when she’s wearing something she’s comfortable in. Yes, you could argue that she was just worried about the costume change going wrong, but the change in body language regardless is undeniable. Bringing this concept closer to home, how many of you have seen girls start an evening in amazing heels only for them to be carrying them by the end of the night because they’re too uncomfortable? Girls that don’t bring coats on nights out because it won’t look cool and there’s nowhere sensible to store it once you get there? Why do people suffer so much for the sake of fashion, for the sake of beauty? What is beauty anyway? Is it that beautiful pair of shoes or is it that true smile of happiness when a person sees something that makes them happy? Is it obtaining the perfect silhouette or the smile you give someone when you help them with something as little as making them a cup of tea? What is beauty?

So what do you guys think? Should women wear whatever they want? Do ‘sexy’ clothes detract from a performers overall skill? Are women choosing to wear these things themselves or is it what their manager/publicist/general pressure want them to wear?

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“You’re so lazy”

“You’re so lazy” is a dangerous phrase. Often, to the people who say it, they don’t think past the obvious explanation. So and so hasn’t come out with us tonight so they must be lazy. So and so sent their friend/parent to pick something up for them, they must be lazy. Silly as this sounds, this annoys me so much! There are so many other reasons why a person doesn’t do something other than being lazy! To me, unless you know the full story, what gives you the right to brand someone as lazy?

With this in mind, I want to talk to you about anxiety and the effects labelling someone as lazy who has anxiety can be.

Anxiety, when taken to the extremes, can be crippling. It changes the way you approach situations and even if you’re willing to approach certain situations at all. Anxiety can fluctuate, a lot. One day catching the train is a breeze and the next day the mere thought sends shots of adrenaline through your body like lightening bolts. Often the level has no rhyme nor reason to it. It annoys the person with anxiety much more than it does you, guaranteed.

Often anxiety is logical. It links itself in to memories and uses bad experiences like a weapon to enable itself against you. Sometimes these experiences are really traumatic and sometimes it’s really minor but the root cause, for the sake of this article at least, doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the anxiety is there and it’s taken hold to whatever extent.

A common thing with anxiety, at least in my case, is the fear of being judged by others. Being misunderstood and thought of as weird. Coping mechanisms that are normal to you, you become ultra paranoid that they come across weird to others. I went through a phase where to walk down the street I had to break it down and touch objects like lampposts and trees along the way as if to ground myself. It’s OK, I’ve only got to get to the next lamppost etc. etc. I am well aware to the people I walked with during this time that this behaviour was more than slightly odd. There’s not many other people I’m sure that seem to gravitate to every lamppost down the highstreet. But that was me and I was constantly afraid that people would label that behaviour, and thus me, as weird.

I also feared having a panic attack in front people. During my experiences with panic attacks I’ve had good and bad reactions to freaking out. The good ones mostly involved my friends or my family. They would give me a second to breathe and then they would help to ground me again, to get me to think about something else or to look at something around me and focus on that. It’s those experiences that make you want to try again. That you will cope in the situation better next time because you did freak out but no one thought you were weird, they helped you. Bad experiences are the ones that legitimise the anxiety. The other person freaks out, is rude to you, says something unhelpful and all your brain and the anxiety hears is “see, I told you it would be bad to freak out.”. That’s why it’s so important to keep calm if a person starts acting off. Either back off or ask if there’s something yo can do to help. Don’t be rude about it because you never know if you’ll ever be in that situation yourself. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

To me, however, the worst thing I could be called is lazy. Every time I leave the house or do something when my anxiety is bad is a major achievement. I don’t expect a medal for that because I’m aware lots of people deal with much worse. But what I’m trying to get at is it’s easy to brand someone as lazy for not going out or not doing something themselves, however, often it’s not simply because the other person is lazy. It takes caring people to think that maybe there is another cause like anxiety that is stopping the other person doing something or going out like everyone else. They might desperately want to go out with you but sometimes the anxiety is too much. If a person has anxiety though, you can be damn sure they are trying to do things but it’s just harder than it is for you at the moment. It will pass but it will take time to reset. In the mean time, it takes caring people to be there for them and to be understanding though it often seems perplexing if you haven’t experienced it yourself.

Things to takeaway

  • Don’t label people as lazy. It’s likely that you don’t know the full story and it could potentially be damaging to label someone as ‘lazy’ if they’re actually trying really hard.
  • Anxiety fluctuates. Anxiety is not the same every day. One day a person can be fine with a situation and the next day it freaks them out. Respect that, don’t judge.
  • Be calm if someone is having a panic attack. Often the worst thing you can do if someone is freaking out is freak out yourself. Stay calm and either back off or ask what you can do to help. Again, don’t judge.
  • Don’t judge. I’m repeating this over and over again but I feel that if you learn nothing else it should be this. There is often more to every story so don’t judge on first impressions, leave yourself open to hearing the other persons side. Be kind.

 

Internet dating

Internet dating is all the craze now. Heaven forbid you should bump into someone in real life first nowadays. No, the online world is the place to start. So I, like many others, made my way to an internet dating site. These are some of the things I found on my brief foray and some words of advice if you’re thinking of giving it a go.

Now, I only tried one internet dating site which I won’t name because I don’t want to be sued so we’ll call it NoValentine…You’ll get it or you won’t. But I wanted to say this advice is very much based on my experiences of this one site. I realise my experiences were also fairly negative and, for some people, it can work out really well. Take my advice with a pinch of salt but it’s things I hadn’t thought about until I gave it a go. Also want to put, this is from the point of view of a straight woman so I don’t know if this is the same for everyone/all transferable.

When I first opened my account on this site, my initial messages from guys were really creepy. Often they were cliched pick-up lines. A few got cute by using things from my profile but none of them really stood out. At best they were creepy and at worst I wanted to go and curl up in a ball and hide. Some of the creepiest were from guys my parents age who openly admitted to have children my age, a guy in a latex dress with pigtails and a really aggressive guy who wanted to know if I would marry him there and then. Anyone with a half functioning creep-o-meter would pick them up a mile off.

Often I would get talking to a guy that came across OK at the start but then little things would slip. A lot of the men I found on the site were either desperate or they wanted to control me/thought their opinion was better/more valid than mine. It’s really hard on a persons self-esteem when you feel like you’re being judged like a prize cow. A status symbol instead of a person, their equal.

Some of the guys were really lovely. I’ve had some great conversations about favourite book series, video games, world events, Harry Potter etc. It’s these guys that restored my faith in the male race.

Now, these are things I want you to keep in mind that I was too naive and innocent to think about:

  • If they raise any red flags at all, you are not imagining it. You can cut them off immediately. It’s not your problem if they get hurt. Number one priority is keeping yourself safe. So, if they’re coming across as creepy, making you feel uncomfortable or you get that gut instinct something is not right then cut the connection.
  • Do not use your main email if you stop using the sites messaging features. Often the site messaging system is awful so it’s fair enough to move it to email. But, please don’t use your main email. It can lead to complications later if the match goes badly. Basically, you open yourself up to more risks if you connect to them on a platform where you can’t just shut the window and walk away from them forever if they get weird.
  • You are worth a lot more than a lot of the guys on the site will give you credit for. Men, and probably women, on this site will make you feel like a cow at a cattle market. Don’t let it get to you. They’re the ones that aren’t worth it.
  • Make sure when you are sussing the other person out that you do not give any personal information. This is everything from the area that you live in, to your mobile number, your Facebook. This is almost linked to the email thing. A lot of guys on the site are less than honest and again, this is about protecting yourself. You’re not being dishonest, you’re being safe. Obviously this is all stuff that you’ll eventually tell them but probably after you guys have met a few times and you’ve gotten good vibes from them.

This is the dark side of internet dating I suppose. The potential for gaining stalkers you otherwise wouldn’t have had or gaining abuse online. But it’s not all like this I just tend to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

The good thing about internet dating is that, unlike when you get a crush on someone, you know that they are interested in getting to know you in that way too. It takes the guessing part out the way.

You can also afford to be a bit more confident when you start off. You can just log off if it gets too much or you don’t like what’s happening anymore. Often in real life you’ll end up bumping into the person that tried asking you out over and over again. It’s unlikely with online dating. So, have no fear in responding to people you might not have been brave enough to talk to before.

When meeting in real life, follow the advice I’m sure you’ve heard before:

  • Meet in a public place. Think coffee shop, bowling, dinner etc.
  • Let someone know you’re going on this date. Where, what time, who’s the lucky person etc.
  • Have someone you know you can text to call you with an ’emergency’ if you need an out for whatever reason. It’s cliched but works.

With internet dating though, have fun but just put in measures to keep yourself safe. The majority of the guys will be fine so you’re only protecting yourself from the minority but better safe than sorry. May you all have happy, long, rewarding relationships!

Points to Takeaway

  • Internet dating can be a good way to find a date. It takes the awkward out of those first introductions. You know the other person is interested in whether they want to date you so flirt away!
  • Make sure to stay safe. You don’t have to go too mad but simple precautions can make a huge difference. Basically, at the end of the day you look after you cause you’re worth it.
  • Have fun!!! 

Unrequited love

I, like I’m sure a lot of other people male and female or gay, straight or otherwise have experienced unrequited love at different times. Times where you weren’t sure if the other person was as into you as you were into them. Sometimes that’s OK. You get over it and move on.

Sometimes you know that you’e reading too much into things like the joke they only share with you or the special moments where they showed you care above everyone else. You know you’re doing it but that part of you, the very human part of you, that just wants to be loved takes over and the crush begins.

To be fair, sometimes these things can be very difficult to tell. If a guy treats you nicer than the others you guys are in contact with. Perhaps checks in particular that you are OK and happy. Chats to only you and is just generally kind. Is it unfair to wonder sometimes whether they’re just being nice or whether they are low-key flirting?

Crushes, thank goodness, don’t usually last forever. Some will be resolved by them dating someone else or, in my case, unintentionally finding out I liked them through a third party and them ranting an epic speech at me about not wanting people to ‘get the wrong impression’ about us. Harsh right? Others are resolved through distance. Maybe you were only in one of their classes for a year, on a short-term contract with them or lived with them in halls for a year. Whatever the reason, crushes fade into the ether of heartbreak and experience.

Every now and again though, one of these crushes comes back to light and makes you wonder ‘what if?’. What if I asked him out? What if I had asked him if he liked me? I mean, it probably would have gone badly right? There is no way he would’ve said yes?

So how do you resolve a crush like this? There is no prompt for your crush to resurface more than you remembering how this person made you feel happy and that you miss that. It’s perhaps a resurgence of emotion borne out of a feeling of loneliness.

It’s times like this that I definitely want to reach out to the other person but there is one thing that makes me stop: why am I reaching out to them? Am I reaching out to them because I genuinely miss them from my life or is it because in my head they represent something that could have been? Often, it is the former reason that makes me want to open messenger and fire something off. Then I stop and realise that there are more negative repercussions than there are benefits to this action. For example, at best they will be happy you have got in touch and you’ll have a brief conversation about the weather and what you’re doing now. At worst, they’ll say something very blunt and try to get rid of you as fast as possible leaving you both feeling really awkward.  So I don’t message. There’s an argument that there’s nothing to lose. I guess in one sense that’s right but I guess the thing you lose is that fantasy of what if. So, it’s the fear of finding out that one more of your crushes was unrequited and was never going to work.

After experiencing all this, I highly recommend most of the time telling the other person when you develop a crush. Notable exceptions to this include:

  1. Your crush is in a relationship. If it’s a happy relationship get real, they don’t want you. If it’s unhappy, don’t be the rebound.
  2. Your crush is of a different sexual orientation to you. It hurts but it’s not going to happen. I had the biggest crush on Adam Lambert but apart from him never knowing who I am, he’s gay and I’m a girl. It’s not happening.
  3. Don’t ask someone in a position of authority over you. Your teacher, lecturer, boss etc. It’s not appropriate. Yeah it happens but it’s definitely not recommended.

Another thing to remember though if you are thinking of telling your crush how you feel is definitely be respectful of them if they don’t feel the same way about you. If they say they don’t see you that way, respect that, back off and don’t try to raise your feelings again. You can’t switch off your crush overnight and sensible people realise that, but it’s creepy if you keep shoving it in their face after you’ve talked about it once and they said no. Be their friend and respect it’s nothing more or leave them alone completely. You don’t want to become a stalker.

I guess some of my crushes are always going to be unresolved and I think part of crushing is accepting that you will never know with some crushes what could have happened. It’s part of you. You either let it go or you accept that it’s a part of you and they will forever be a part of you.

The takeaway points:

  1. Crushes happen to everyone and it sucks when you know they are unrequited.
  2. If it’s appropriate, let the other person know how you feel. It’s better to know and resolve it than to leave yourself wondering ‘what if?’.
  3.  If you tell your crush how you feel, be respectful if they say no and back off.

When you want to give up but the world doesn’t want to give up on you

Third year at university is never going to be easy. You assume when you sign up for the course that it will get progressively harder. But, it’s only when you get there do you fully understand the scale of the task.

Writing an essay, camped out in the library until 2am surrounded by friends was an amazing experience. Which might sound crazy but hear me out.

I’m not going to lie, towards the end I believe they may have worried for my sanity. I was slightly concerned myself. Especially when, so close to the end, the technology decided to act up causing me to have to restructure something I thought was done.

But, what really made that night special, despite how hard it was, was the people. Eating cake together and playing noughts and crosses on the whiteboard. Commiserating and celebrating together. The right mixture of sympathy and laughter. It helped me to remember that, even when you’re ready to give up, the world might not be ready to give up on you.

Uni Flatmates Are Like An Honorary Family

Living with flatmates is like having an honorary family. You didn’t choose them, yet you have to spend the next year of your life living in very close quarters with them. It is a process that either strengthens friendships or makes you want to kill each other by the end. But one thing is for sure, whether you love your halls experience or not, it really is a crash course in living in the real world.

Like it or not, by the end of the year you will know things about other people in your flat that sometimes you wish you didn’t know. Like a horrible reality show, you find out everyones habits. The girl down the end of the corridor is a screamer when she is getting intimate with her boyfriend (surely that must be off putting?) and the boy upstairs has multiple showers a day in order to stifle his particular bodily craving. It’s all things you don’t want to know but you will end up knowing by the end of the year. So, now you’re prepared.

When living with flatmates for the first time learn to pick your battles. Truly, if you fight them on everything you disagreed on you would spend all your time on the attack. It’s much more relaxing to take a back seat until when it really counts which brings me onto the next point.

You think home is boring. Everyone is in bed by 11pm and the house is silent. Soon you are going to miss that. When you are living with 40 odd other people with paper thin walls to take away the sound no matter what the time day or night there will always be something going on. And, something going on usually equates to noise. I am a notoriously light sleeper, which meant when my flatmates dragged themselves back a little worse for wear in the early hours of the morning, they would normally wake me up. Why they expected me to let them in at 5am I shall never know. I am not in the forgiving mood at that time of the morning unless it’s an emergency.

You will find people have different attitudes to drinking and drugs. It’s important before you go to decide where you stand on those. How much do you like to drink and do you want to take drugs. Decide that before you get there and stick to what you feel comfortable with. People at uni, and those that you live with, will try to take you past the limit that you have set yourself, so you need to stay strong with what you feel comfortable with. In the end, chances are that they will respect you more for sticking with your limit- though it may not feel like that in freshers week.

But, at the end of the day. Living with flatmates is one big compromise. You will all have to put up with things that you don’t like. Whether that be the state of the washing up in the kitchen or the amount of fridge space you have. There will be a constant process of compromise. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is sometimes it’s better just to let it go. It’s not worth fighting over everything. Especially if it is something you can fix like taking the overflowing bin out. Guilt trip them later but don’t fight over it. Think of it as a diplomatic mission. You can’t just go in and say they’re shit you have to put it in a nice, calm, relaxed way and if that doesn’t work….well…..more force may be required.

Good luck guys with moving in. Just be yourself and you can come out the other side content with the fact that you were always yourself. Being you is awesome! Bring on Freshers week!

Schools To Side With The Bully

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/how-will-bullying-ever-be-beaten-if-schools-side-with-the-bullies-9709742.html
I recently read an article about bullying in school and it really angered me. The articles main message was that it was the bullied child, the victim’s, fault they were being bullied and not the problem of the bullies.

For years the message has always been that the child doing the bullying often has problems that they don’t know how to express. Therefore, they bully children they see as having want they want. Indeed, for years in first school I was bullied by another girl who appeared to have everything. She had the designer bag and wore jelly high heels to school but what she didn’t have was a Mother who was always there for her. So, naturally, she bullied me out of jealousy. My Mum was always in school helping out and generally being lovely. That was what she wanted but it was the one thing that money couldn’t buy her. Bullying became her outlet. But, the idea that it was my fault that she bullied me is ridiculous.

The article went on to talk about how schools were going to teach children how to ‘fit in’ with the other children. The reason, obviously, that they were being bullied was because they themselves had social issues and there was nothing wrong with the bullies. But what does that teach our children? Bullying is ok? Just act like everyone else? If they jump off a bridge follow them like lemmings?

Yes, you have to conform to school rules about things such as uniform and basic behaviour. But, you shouldn’t be telling a child how to act. If they are not causing a disruption in the class but they like heavy rock music while everyone else is into pop should the teachers wade in and change that? After all, they are being bullied about the band backpack they’re carrying and the fact theirs isn’t a One Direction bag. Obviously, they are not trying to fit in and deserve to be bullied….right? Wrong, so wrong.

Every child is different. It should be encouraged that children learn who they are and not just become one of the herd. Instead of teaching them to be the same, encourage them to think outside of the box. Allow them to grow into the person they are meant to be and not what society think they ought to be.

Teachers, instead of scapegoating the victim, should be finding out why the other child has become a bully. It is quite often a sign of a bigger problem the bully is facing that they are expressing in the wrong way. But, if they are not doing it for that reason but purely to be spiteful they should be punished. Regardless, it should be made clear to the child that is being bullied that it is not their fault. The victim’s only crime is being themselves and that should be encouraged and not punished.

It is awesome to be different but at school it can cost you. From teachers to your average school bully you will be targeted but I promise you. It will be worth it in the long run. They only bully you because they are jealous. You know who you are and they don’t. You scare them so they bully you to make you feel small when actually you are so much more powerful than they are.

So are the children being bullied really at fault? Should they be made to change so they ‘fit in’ with the ‘normal’ children? What are your thoughts?