Friday, 31 October 2014

Scary Stuff

Halloween - Hallowe'en, All Hallow's Eve, AllHalloween, All Saints' Eve: a yearly celebration marked by orange pumpkins, jiggling plastic skeletons, dress-ups, parties, sugar, witch's hats and an overuse of the word 'spooky'. It's the time when Halloween specials come up on television and cringe-worthy marketing techniques resurface; shaken out and dusted off once again to sell, sell, sell - as cheesy and predictable as the last 152 times.

For me, October 31st is a day of eye-rolls and mutterings of "Wow, haven't heard that one before" (in response to the aforementioned cringe-worthy marketing techniques) - and this year, it's also the day that the carton of milk in our fridge passes its use-by-date - that's about it. While it's not something that I generally get involved in, I still do enjoy seeing how others celebrate and get creative with it: my social media feeds filled with inventive make-up ideas, DIY decorations and some excellent costumes.

However, I do have some issues with Halloween. My problems with it, much like my problems with Christmas, Easter and the like, are the really scary things about the occasion - not the appearance of vampires, devils, witches, ghouls and ghosts, but the extra harm done to the planet and the many Halloween costumes that objectify women.

The shouts of "Buy me, buy me!" from cheap, plastic crap - no doubt made by slaves in China - are distinctly louder in the time leading up to occasions like these. Individual plastic packaging for each bullet-sized lolly, toxic dyes from making costumes washing into rivers, costumes and decorations made from environmentally unfriendly materials, and excessive amounts of waste, etc - all equate to an environmental nightmare.
But you don't have to partake in any of that: costumes can be handmade, borrowed from a friend, rented, created with clothes from the back of your wardrobe, ethically made, second hand, or at least be reworn.

And then there's the sexism. Out of all festivities, I think that Halloween probably holds the shiny gold trophy for costumes that sexualise women. They go as far as a sexy snowman from a children's Disney movie - hot, right? The objectification of women in Halloween costumes is especially noticeable when seen in contrast to the same costumes, but for men. Where a costume for men might be marketed as funny, scary, or evil, the version for women is more likely to be labelled 'sexy' or 'naughty'.

On the other end of the teeterboard, comes the slut-shaming. When we call out stuff like this, it's important to not respond with more sexism and shame girls who wear sexy outfits. The problem is more that these costumes are pretty much all of what's on offer, and that that participates in giving society the screwed up idea that the most important thing about women is how they look to men - which is so far from the truth.

As much as I detest the fact that almost all the costumes for women that you'll find in your average cheap store or shopping centre are sexually objectifying, I'm not going to judge anyone who wears them. If you like it and you want to wear it, then wear it - it's completely your choice. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look sexy.

Although, if you are looking for some women's Halloween costumes that are about more than looking sexy, A Mighty Girl has some brilliant ideas for girls and women of all ages here.

So, with that being said, I hope everyone enjoys their day, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. The dress and heels seen above and below were taken off hours ago, so I think for Halloween I'm just going to go as the (very tongue-in-cheek) girl who forgot to shave her armpits, because nothing scares people like female body hair, right?








My familiar, Colin. This baby swallow fell out of its nest a week ago, rather luckily falling into a box full of fabric. We put it back, but there were no other siblings (when there was the day before) and its parents never came back for it. I'm actually starting to become a bit of a protective mummy bird. 
Photos courtesy of my mum

The vintage handmade dress was bought at a charity shop, and so were the heels - which I towered in, as they put me over six feet tall! To prove that you can source your entire Halloween costume ethically, I'd also like to note that the under shorts were upcycled from a pair of holey tights, the crop top underneath is a hand-me-down from my sister, and my knickers are from ethical UK company Who Made Your Pants? - they even go with my outfit, as they're green! 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Framed Moments and Captured Spaces.
















Photography is one of my big passions - my biggest passion, in the area of creativity. I love those framed moments and captured spaces. It's such a personal thing for me; it's art - self expression. When I show you a (particular) photo I've taken of someone else, it can sometimes feel like I'm showing you a portrait of me - and I am, just not in the physical sense. And those that I've taken of myself? The 'selfie' takes on a whole new meaning...

So many people view photography as just "point and shoot", but they've got that confused - that's a camera. Photography comprises imagination, creativity, style, light, feeling, self, thought, angle, work, experiences, talent, skill, stories, subjects, themes, collaboration, plans, ideas, and you - and sometimes a lot of swearing, too. The camera is the wonderful tool used to capture all of that. We wouldn't have photography without cameras, but we wouldn't have so many amazing photos - works of art - without photography, without the minds behind them.

Photography can sometimes be seen as a weak practice, by those who believe that an image is as simple as aim, click, done. I get very irritated when some say "isn't photography just another word for unemployed?" or ask photographers "yeah, but what's your job? What else do you do?". Even worse than that is when people say or insinuate that the photos are only beautiful because you have a good camera. Ehem, was Harry Potter a great wizard because of his wand? I-don't-bloody-think-so. Tim Walker certainly doesn't make the amazing images he does because he bought a shiny camera with a big lens, throws his arms out in a random direction and presses a button.

On photos that I have taken of my sister, I have had comments in which people say that the images are only pretty because she's so beautiful. Well yes, sometimes the photographs I post haven't had much effort or creativity put into them, they are not the pictures that make me feel like I'm showing you a part of me, and they are pretty because the subject is...but I like them and I like taking them.

Out of all my photos, I tend to prefer the ones that I found more challenging, that incorporate more of my imagination, and sometimes they aren't the most gorgeous ones, the ones that everyone else favours, but that's okay, it's for me. Photography, writing, clothes, blog posts - first and foremost, they're for me; my rabbit hole - a whimsical world to escape to.

____________________________________

The photos above were all taken by me (and if the subject is human, then they're of me too), snapped on my Samsung Galaxy Mini gt-s5570 phone. Most of the other pictures on my blog were captured with a Nikon L120. All except the last have appeared on my Instagram. Most of them, like the photos I take with my proper camera, are un-edited.
They are a mix of just pretty captures and photos that have a little extra something behind them: putting on a dress that matches a vintage mirror for the sake of a shot; getting my mum to stop the car because I noticed that the blooms on a tree, a sign, a steel fence and a grey sky contrasted perfectly; spending ten minutes trying to get the perfect shot of me donning a sixties hat picked up in a charity shop that day; almost tripping over myself in the search of a mirror when the afternoon sun is filtering through my window beautifully; waiting for the right time for the sun to make some Bottlebrush seed pods cast the perfect shadow; and, most notably: waiting until dark so that I can turn off the light in my bedroom, close the door, hang an embroidered silk shirt on my cupboard door as I hold the front of it up so that a reptile light - balanced on my knee - could shine through it, while I hastily snap the photo. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Forgotten Ones











I am typing this up on my sister's old laptop as my mum's computer, which I was using previously, is currently not turning on - and neither is my laptop. The right-click button is non-functioning and the screen doesn't sit up by itself (I have it leaning against a vintage suitcase which is balanced on top of an upturned laundry basket...which is sitting atop a milk crate full of old records), but still: it works, receives internet and, very importantly, was storing a bunch of photos that I had either forgotten about or couldn't access (because they are on my unresponsive computer).

I'm really happy with the rediscovery of these photos and in retrospect I have no idea why they weren't posted beforehand - I love them! The two absolute babes in these images are my fabulous sisters and favourite photography subjects, both of whom I utterly adore. The first two black-and-whites are of my magnificent god-sister Jazz, the second photograph of her has actually appeared on this blog before, but I couldn't resist reposting it because Jazz looks so adorable and infectiously happy, as she does in the shot above. All the other pictures are of my wonderful sister Ireland, who I will be seeing this weekend - YAY!

...And as I'm trying not to neglect clothing details: the hat donned by both Jazz and Ireland is a vintage wool and velvet number found at a charity shop, the seventies leather boots worn by Jazz are mine (from Etsy), and Ireland's green sixties mini, Jazz's sixties lace shift dress and seventies summer maxi were all unearthed from my mum's hoard of vintage and second hand pieces that she has collected from charity shops over the years.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

In Response to 'Women Against Feminism'

As you might already know, there has been a lot of hype recently about a tumblr blog called 'Women Against Feminism' - a page dedicated to women submitting pictures of themselves with a message that states why they feel that they don't need feminism. Many of the women talk about equality and that no gender is superior, which is true and something that I completely agree with, but those messages start how all the others do: with the words "I don't need feminism because..". If the mainstream assumption of what feminism actually is was accurate, some of those submissions would be making good points.

Feminism seems to have become a bit of a dirty word in society. The false stigma attached can cause an instant blocking or recoiling effect in someone when the word comes up in conversation. A common misconception is that feminism means the belief in female 
superiority; that feminists hate men, oppress men, believe they are inferior. I'm not saying there aren't feminists who believe that, who fit the bad stereotypes. But in every belief, you will find people who are radicals and extremists, people who misinterpreted the roots of the labels they gave themselves. I hate sexism - from and towards both men and women, and I get equally outraged at misandry as I do misogyny. I know that men have issues thanks to sexism too, and I even think that some feminists (who got the wrong idea) are the reason for some of it.

Feminism is essentially the endorsement of women's rights. One definition, from the Oxford Dictionary, is: "the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes." An excellent summary, but it's still only skeletal. As a feminist, I can take the bones of it and elaborate on that in my own way; building, adding, shaping with my own experiences and observations. This may seem odd, but I think it's important to not base your idea of feminism off feminists. A feminist is someone who supports feminism, but being a feminist does not come with a rulebook. 'Feminist' is a label that anyone can claim; you don't have to have any special experiences, no biological, professional or academic qualifications. Anyone can call themselves a feminist. Anyone can be a feminist. But one individual feminist does not define feminism as a whole and thus does not represent all feminists.  

This was one of my main problems with 'Women Against Feminism': the misunderstanding and misuse of the word 'feminism'. Something that also struck me was how oblivious they were to the fact that feminism is a part of the reason they can vote, get an education, have the job of their choice and be paid the same amount as men in the same field (although that still isn't always the case), decide if and when they want a family...among many other things. It's great that these women can say "I do not feel oppressed" - that's really, really fantastic, but it's also thanks to the feminists (both male and female) of the past who fought for women's rights.

We still need feminism - globally. It seemed so ignorant to me that (most of) the Women Against Feminism started their statements with "I" - how incredibly inconsiderate to shun something doing so much good and helping so many people just because
they don't feel they need it. Even if I never had any reason to feel like I needed feminism, it doesn't mean I shouldn't be a feminist and it doesn't mean other women don't need it. Because they do.

In some countries women aren't allowed to drive, women don't get education, they can't wear what they want, they are forced into marriage when they are children, women are victims of femicide, acid throwing and rape every day. We need feminism even in (
comparatively) developed countries. Feminism is needed all around the world, and while it is, there will be feminists fighting for women's rights and making change, regardless of stereotypes, jokes and pages like 'Women Against Feminism' trying to bring them down.

Feminism is something I am very passionate about - it is just one specific part of my beliefs in equality and human rights. I will probably write more on this subject in the future and elaborate on what feminism means to me, why I'm a feminist, etc. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Also, if you're interested, Confused Cats Against Feminism is an excellent parody of 'Women Against Feminism'.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The ones that got away















All shots above were either taken by me, my god-sister or my sister, and the photos are of us too. 

I have several reasons for not posting for over a month, which include: two faulty computers, a broken camera battery charger, my sister visiting (she has moved 5 hours away from me - boo), and unfortunately my creativity seems to have gone on holiday (I'm having dreams about really mundane things such as grocery shopping - what a waste).
I often feel a little bit stressed if I haven't posted for a while, as this blog feels a little bit like my rabbit hole sometimes. So this just a quick post to finally have something new! The pictures are all (sans a couple) 'ones that got away' from a few blog shoots, or otherwise photos from shoots that never even appeared on the blog. Some of the photos even date back to when I was twelve. As always, the clothes are hand-me-downs, charity shopped and vintage.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Light




















Light is a glorious thing. Glorious in the way it shows colours, in the fact that I wouldn't have any pictures to show you if not for it - many things would cease to exist without light. The right light can make the mundane and ordinary transform into something utterly spectacular, giving the illusion of something magical. It can shine through water and make a droplet look like it contains an entire star nebula in its sphere.
It's incredibly fitting that we use variations of the word 'light' to describe people. How we can shine, glow, radiate and illuminate. How someone can bring out the best (or the 'light') in others much like the way the sun illuminates the intricate veins of a leaf or the strands of a spider web. 

Experimenting with light - particularly sunlight - is one of my favourite things about photography. I'm fascinated by the nature of some of the shadows it creates and I'm delighted by the way it's caught by single strands of hair, transparent materials and droplets of water. Different days, different skies and different light has all kinds of wonders to be experimented with and explored. 

So yes - light is a glorious thing. This post is simply a brief appreciation of that. All of the above images were snapped by me. The photo of flowers plaited into hair is of my mum and the second image is of my god-sister Jazz. All other portraits are of my sister, Ireland.