Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A retrospective realisation of sexism

A few years ago, I was bridesmaid at a friend's wedding. We picked our own dresses from a big wedding warehouse type place (seriously, *thousands* of dresses), the only rule was we had to all get the same colour (colours were very precise and had different number for different shades, so we all matched exactly).

Anyway, my friend and I both found dresses in our size, and had alterations made by the instore fittings people. Mine needed to be taken in a little, owing to the fact that I am, as we are by now all aware, ridiculously thin, but without asking me, the woman took it upon herself to sew giant fake foam breasts into the bust.

At the time I thought it odd, but didn't concern myself much more with it. Now, and call me slow on the uptake as well you may, I've just realised how fucking sexist it was! "Woman has small breasts, must want/need enhancement to be attractive"! Fuck off. It didn't make me more attractive anyway, from a certain angle I looked faintly like a blow-up doll.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Picking holes in substance abuse statistics

I'm pretty sure everyone will by now have seen the world's new favourite statistical finding - cocaine users over the age of 35 are seven times more likely to die than cocaine users under the age of 25. Now, it's unlike me in the extreme to get involved in anything to do with drug use, largely because no matter how hard I bloody try, I am seemingly destined to live a frustratingly clean, law-abiding lifestyle forever and also because I'd never actually advocate taking or legalising drugs because I do have my qualms about them (the children of over-protective medical professionals are destined to live their lives wrestling such internal conflicts). So yeah, don't expect it to become a running theme of my notes or anything. BUT - the statistic, which keeps being bandied about with very little further information seems very misleading to me, and although I've sat here, waiting for some nice scientists to come along and debunk it, none have appeared, so I've determined to take on the challenge myself, despite the fact I have no scientific background and everything I say will probably be wrong. So, here goes:

1.) How is this a fair comparison? The number of drug users under 25 is a MUCH smaller sample than over 35, unless people are starting their kids on coke at five, like the French do with their children and wine. More people, higher likelihood of a death occurring. This is maths for nursery school children.

2.) As I said, over 35s is a larger sample and hence includes a larger range of ages. People in their late forties and fifties taking drugs, specifically drugs like cocaine is far from unheard of (please welcome to the stage Mr Keith Richards), at the same time people in their forties and fifties are more likely to have developed additional health problems that can occur with age - high blood pressure, angina, late onset diabetes, etc. Decades of the sedentary sort of lifestyle we Westerners seem to have got down to a fine art means people in middle age are more likely to be overweight and/or out of shape. All of which means the risks of potentially harmful activity such as drug taking are significantly increased as the body is in less of an optimum condition to deal with the added strain. (Please note, I'm not saying turning 45 means you instantly become fat and unhealthy, all you need to do is eat well and keep active, just observing that a large portion of society is loathe to do this).

3.) The average 40 something cocaine user is probably not wholly new to the game. I don't think anyone knows for certain what the cumulative effects of several years of cocaine use on the system are, but I'm doubting they're good. Add to the mix that drug users are likely to be more than well acquainted with our other popular vices - alcohol and cigarettes, which we KNOW are bad for you - and yet again you're presented with someone who's not as healthy as someone who literally hasn't had time yet to build up the register of health problems that go hand in hand with an unhealthy lifestyle - so it's not a fair comparison.

So in conclusion, while all this means that yes, the over 35s do incur a higher risk of death than the under 25s if they use cocaine, it's only *technically* true, in the same way that its *technically* true that mohammed is the most popular boys name in the UK if you take into account all eleventy billion different spellings of it, and ignore the fact that it's customary in many interpretations of Islam to include the name Mohammed (or one of its variations) somewhere in a male Muslim child's name.

The promotion of this little "fact" this week has annoyed me because the very premise seems flawed in that ignores the 25-35 age group. What's their risk? Do they not exist, or matter? Once again the media has left me feeling totally disenfranchised. Perhaps the statistics for this group are anomalous, so they've been left out? Very odd, given that all things considered, 25-35 is probably the group amongst which the highest level of cocaine use occurs, being that it's expensive and a favourite of money-rich, time-poor young professionals. I don't trust this at all. Plus, it struck me as rather ageist. Like "35 is too old to have fun, and if you try you WILL DIE". Not that you need to take drugs to have fun, OBVIOUSLY, as I've written about here before, else I'd have had a spectacularly dull life up to now, and I am, quite frankly, effervescent and generally all-round brilliant at parties; but it does have that tone about it, whereas in actual fact, if you're an otherwise healthy person in their thirties or forties, I can't see that the risk is going to be that much higher at all. Of course, their ridiculous age-grouping means they include people of 70, 80 and 90 etc in the spurious statistics for "over 35", and I'd imagine the risk is seven HUNDRED times higher once you reach pension age, but if you're still up for partying at that age I think I'd have to say fair bloody play to you.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

So I'm going to Japan

I'm sorry, I've been neglecting you, dear, dear seven followers of mine. What can I say. I'm in Berlin and it's too hot to think. That's why this is going to be a short post. I could import over all of the moany posts I've been doing on Facebook, but since I so rarely post anything positive on here, I thought I'd spare you that and jump to something modelling-related (that being, after all, the nominal topic of this blog).

The salon which cannot be named is taking me to Japan for a week, to do a show. Possibly a couple of shows, I don't know yet, I've not seen my schedule. My point is this. I'm being PAID to go to Japan. You know I rarely brag, so allow me this one moment to revel in the marvellousness of it all, before my life, inevitably goes pear-shaped again.

Much love from Germany. Out.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Why I hate Wimbledon

Largely, I hate the players. I can't help it, I've always had a strong sense of of moral fairness, and inherent dislike of privilege, which dooms me to not get on well with Wimbledon. Say what you like about footballers (and I do, bunch of egotistical, over-paid, would-be rapists), at least a fair number of them just started playing at school and went from there. Tennis players are literally bred for purpose. I haven't heard of any of them gestating in a lab yet, but we can't be far off. Look at Murray - he's the product of his mother's junior tennis player factory. Was reading about another female player the other day, who'd been playing since she was three - normal children do not just pick up a tennis racket and start playing of their own accord at age three. The children who do that, and end up playing professionally at Wimbledon 10-12 years later are the ones who have wealthy, upper-middle class, incredibly pushy parents who decided that little Cedric or Cedrina was going to make them even richer than they already were when they were still just a dollar sign in their father's eye. For my tastes, if someone is going to get very, very rich for doing comparatively little, they should at least have not come from an extremely privileged background to start with.

Plus, Wimbledon brings out the worst in the press. I know this is not the players faults' but I'm taking it out on them anyway. Every year the same thing - the more attractive female players (although that's a suspiciously high number of them, again, bred for purpose) are on the cover of FHM in their scanties - not that they wear much more on court - promoting the idea that no matter how intelligent or talented you are, it's still your body that's your most important asset. Actually, that is their fault.

What's not their fault, but is equally, if not more abhorrent is the tabloids publishing endless photos of female players that just "happen" to have been taken when they were jumping and their skirts have blown up. The film crews continually zoom in on the blondes in low cut dresses in the crowd shots.

All of which leads to the tiresome debate the blows up every year around the Williams sisters, in which people will mutter about them "dominating" women's tennis, whilst making it quite clear that their actual problem is that they have deemed them insufficiently attractive (and for a large portion of that, read insufficiently white) to be on tv. Completely forgetting that fact that sport is still nominally supposed to be about athletic prowess, not how many swimwear advertisements you can book. GAH.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Manic Street Preachers aren't male prostitutes, but of they *were*...

To amuse myself at work today I was playing "if the Manics were male prostitutes, what type of male prostitutes would they be"? I have no idea how or why I came up with that, but this is what I decided:

Nicky - Upmarket, Belle de Jour type "escort"; would demand champagne and silk negligees in expensive hotel rooms (he would be wearing the negligee).

James - Classic "tart with a heart", would work in a brothel, offering a sympathetic ear to his socially inept clients, one of whom would eventually sweep him off his feet and marry him, a la Pretty Woman.

Richey - Down by the docks confusing the sailors; would later tell the press he was conducting an experiment into the unstoppable depravity of male sexuality.

Sean - Skulking around the red light district in dead of night, he would lure unsuspecting johns down dark alleyways then whip out a knife and rob them.

Tell me I'm wrong on any of these!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The laziest example of blogging ever...

Hanna's answers would imply that she stole this from me...but I don't remember doing it, so I'm stealing it from her...

1. First thing you wash in the shower?
The taps.

2. What colour is your favorite hoodie?
I own but one hoodie, and it is grey. I prefer to call it a hooded sweatshirt.

3. How are you feeling RIGHT now?
Irritated. Television and hair-related concerns dominate.

4. Whats the closest thing to you that's red?
My nails. I love doing shows/shoots, because it's the only time I get to wear nail polish, being as how whenever I try to apply it myself I end up painting my knuckles. I have shiny, shiny pillarbox red nails today and I love them.

5. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?
I really cannot remember *any* dreams I've had recently at all, which is annoying. A few years ago I dreamt I was locked in physical combat with a 30 foot Barbie doll.

6. What are you craving right now?
A cup of tea. I may go fetch one momentarily.

7. Are you emotional?
I'm tempted to reply "If the day came when I felt a natural emotion, I'd get such a shock I'd probably jump in the ocean", but I find myself mired in misery increasingly and alarmingly frequently, so that's probably not strictly true.

8. Have you ever counted to 1,000?
I may have done, I don't recall. I generally have better things to do with my time. Like fill in questionnaires on Facebook.

9. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?
Lick it, I'm not a monster.

10. Do you like your hair?
I have a troubled relationship with my hair. It changes far too often for me to make any definitive decisions on how fond I am of it (see status update).

11. Do you like yourself?
I can't comment on the whole concept of self-hood, too vast. There are aspects of myself I truly, genuinely despise, too many to list; the rest I tolerate. I'm not sure there are any I actually like. except my nails. They're pretty.

12. What are you listening to right now?
The voice track of a documentary about the Yorkshire Ripper. Specifically I am only listening, because my Channel 5 reception amounts to black and white fuzz accompanied by a disembodied voice. I essentially have Channel 5 radio.

13. Would you go sky diving?
I had the option on Topdeck. I ran very far and very fast in the opposite direction of the sign-up sheet. I petted huskies and had a snowball fight instead; I think I made the right choice.

14. Have you ever met a celebrity?
The Manics, Nightmare of You (I don't care if you haven't heard of them) Greg from Delays, Wayne from Boy Cried Wolf (nicest man EVER), The Rakes (sort of, I was in their video and stood at the back and listened while other people spoke to them between takes, as I was far too scared. Jamie laughed at my joke though :D), Dirty Pretty Things, Didz Hammond (also lovely. And moustachioed) probably lots of other band people I can't remember, Chris de Burgh (involuntarily), Alan Rusbridger (editor of the Guardian. He's AWESOME).

15. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?
I am a Manics fan. There are many sparkly things in the room I am in. One of them being my face. I wore glitter a week ago and every time I wash, it just moves the glitter to a different part of my face.

16. How many countries have you visited?
Not nearly enough, in too concentrated an area. Off the top of my head: France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Vatican City (yes, it counts), Ireland. Furthest afield: America; Nebraska, to be precise.

17. Have you made a prank phone call?
Not exactly prank, but I have rung, not spoken, and hung up. It's childish but it makes me feel happy to mildly annoy those who cross me.

18. Ever been on a train?
I'm actually dumbfounded by this question. Of *course* I've been on a train. No one is going to say no to this question, surely, as foetuses can't type.

19. Do you have a cell-phone?
I have a mobile phone and a dislike of American English.

20. Do you use chap stick?
I use Carmex lip balm. It smells of wax and burns in a good way.

21. Do you own a gun?
No. I own a grenade though.

22. Can you use chop sticks?
I wouldn't starve, but it doesn't look particularly graceful.

23. Who are you going to be with tonight?
Me, myself and I. It'll be like a very small party, except with tears and recriminations instead of streamers.

24. Are you too forgiving?
Yes and no. I forgive people without arguing nine times out of ten as I don't like confrontation, but I continue to hold grudges of varying viciousness for years afterwards.

25. Ever been in love?
"And you can tell I have never really loved/You can tell by the way I sleep all day"

26. What is your best friend(s) doing tomorrow?
Echoing Hanna's sentiments, I refuse to rank my friends in order of preference, but I do categorise them into easy to manage groups, these being Manics fans, noSWeaters, Topdeckers, Femis, Models and Assorted Others (don't feel bad, Assorted Others, I love you all the same).

27. Ever have cream puffs?
I've had Jacobs Lemon Puffs. Oh damn, now I want some. But they're £2.50 a pack. Must. Resist.

28. Last time you cried?
I actually don't remember. It's like with alcohol, you build up a tolerance if you do it enough.

29. What was the last question you asked?
"Who do I see about being paid?" It's vulgar to talk about money, but I don't give my time for free.

30. Favorite time of the year?
January 1st. Every year, without fail, on January 1st I am filled with a bright-eyed optimism about how brilliant this year is going to be, even though every year, without fail, I realise by February that absolutely nothing is going to change and it's going to be as rubbish as every year that preceded it. And people call me a pessimist.

31. Do you have any tattoos?
No, one planned once I'm across the Channel.

32. Are you sarcastic?
Are you taking the piss?

33. Ever walked into a wall?
Yes. My first haircut for Sassoon involved me not being able to see out of one eye for the best part of a year, and it takes a while for your depth perception to adjust itself.

34. Favorite colour?
Gold, purple, leopardprint, glitter.

35. Have you ever slapped someone?
Not that I recall, though I've had worse done to me.

36. Is your hair curly?
No, Boo.

37. What was the last CD you bought?
Errrrrrrrrrm, Everybody Was In The French Resistance...Now!, Fixin' The Charts, I think. I've grown lazy of late and taken to downloading things, because I am a product of the nineties and need instant gratification.

38. Do looks matter?
If they didn't, I like to think I wouldn't be single. Oh no, wait, I have an abhorrent personality. Pass.

39. Could you ever forgive a cheater?
I did once, it did not end well. I have now instituted a "Cheat and you will be dead before you hit the ground" rule.

40. Do you like your life right now?
Does the Fail like immigrants?

41. Can you handle the truth?
no. For the love of Cod, LIE TO ME.

42. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?
Ha, it's closer to 30. I don't believe in love at first sight, but I believe in, and frequently engage in hate, or at least extreme dislike on sight.

43. How often do you talk on the phone?
Excluding at work, probably once every other day. My friends all fear their telephones. Do you all sleep with an axe under your pillow in case your mobile tries to strangle you during the night?

44. What are you wearing?
Jeggings (yes, you will have to prise them from my cold, dead legs), a grey vest, black braces. I'm really into braces at the moment. I got them from a vintage shop in Covent Garden years ago. I didn't wear them for ages because they remind me of an ex I'd rather forget, but fuck it, I look better in them than he ever did.

45. What's your favourite animal?

46. Where was your default picture taken at?
A pub on Upper Street, at Robin's birthday drinks.

47. Can you hula hoop?
A little.

48. Do you have a job?
Being sexy is a full-time occupation. Boo-yah. I also find time to shuffle papers for the government, alongside being paid for and in hair cuts, and occasionally allowing people to take pictures of me in return for money.

49. Have you ever crawled through a window?
Yes, it was quite high, I don;t recall how I even reached.

50. Turns-offs?
I'm a namist. I could never love a man named Andy.

51. Do you think the opposite sex finds you attractive?
Well not the whole of it, but I'm like catnip to the other 50s, apparently. Old man nip, if you will.

52. What is best about the opposite sex?
Balls. I like balls. So much fun to play with. I also like foreskins, they're like jumpers for genitals.

53. What is worst about the opposite sex?
Their inability to acknowledge my existence.

54. Do you believe you should be in love to have sex?
I used to. Then I realised I didn't want to die a virgin. And that sex is fun, occasionally.

55. How would you like to die?
I'd like to take slimming pills until I starved to death, it would be quick, and ironic. I'm fairly sure I could pass it off as modern art.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

4 stone 7lb

Ok, so I'm not quite that thin, but clothes shopping today I realised again that my body is truly repulsive. I came home without a single item, having tried on innumerate size 8s (optimistic) and whatever size 6s I could scavenge (not any smaller than the 8s, if you ask me). The only thing that came close to fitting were a pair of size 4 - from the petite section, no less, so they'd never have been long enough - faux leather trousers and I couldn't get them past my foot. They probably would have fit; I have worn both rubber (which the insides of these trousers confusingly seemed to be made of) and fake leather for shoots before, and it usually takes a lot of talcum powder and two people to get it on and off. However, I had neither of these things to hand in the changing rooms and I was aware of the possibility that struggling to get them on alone I would inadvertently stagger into the wall and knock myself out, only to be discovered prone on the floor with my trousers round my ankles by the 16-year-old shop boy and I was loathe to still have to pay for them after being cut out of them, so I decided not to pursue the idea.

It's not that being thin alone makes you disgusting, obviously, but even I accept that having a 24 inch waist and a 37 inch inner leg is not a winning combination. At best I look gangly and awkward, at worst I look like a famine victim.

This was highlighted most succinctly when trying on shorts. I have never had a pair of shorts that fit. I have the same problem with them that I do with skirts (which I also very rarely ever wear): they're too big on the waist so they drop down to my bony hips, which hold them up, but also stick out a good couple of inches from my body - giving my abdomen the appearance of being not flat but inverse - so there is an inch of air between the waistband and my actual flesh. This makes me look EXACTLY like an anorexic. Also, I usually like my legs in short dresses, but poking out of the legs of a pair of shorts which are supposed to be fitted on the thigh and clearly aren't, they look scrawny and insufficient to support my meagre body weight.

I didn't fare any better with tops. A cute, short-sleeved cardigan with flamboyant shoulder detail from H&M was MASSIVE and barely reached my navel, exposing the inverse stomach again. I should have known it was a bad sign when I pulled it on over my head without undoing any of the buttons. Two short sleeved jumpers in Primark swamped me and made me look vaguely mannish, despite one being decorated with candy-coloured hearts and the other being crochet with flirty sheer panels.

It was when I saw myself in a dress that I really despaired though. A clingy, thin white vest with slender straps for the body, paired with a full skirt made me look like a particularly stylish concentration camp resident. My collarbone fully on display doesn't usually bother me, but the vest was low enough to show off a significant number of ribs too, and the xylophone look is SO last season. My shoulders are far too wide for me to ever look good in slim straps, much more like a malnourished man in drag, and the thin cotton clung to my barely-existent curves, emphasising just how small they actually are. I didn't actually understand the point of that top. I don't often wear a bra because I don't need to, but you *couldn't* wear a bra with that, the straps were too narrow and the back too low; but without one, everything was visible. It's supposed to be a sign of age to be unimpressed by current fashions, but are exposed nipples ever really a good look? Even strippers wear tassels!

On top of that, I hate my arms. They're way too long and way too thin, and thinnest just below the shoulder, which is another tell-tale sign of anorexia, I'm told. Maybe I AM anorexic and just don't realise? How do anorexics commonly feel about chicken nuggets? I'm very partial to chicken nuggets lately.

Anyway, the full skirt was an unwelcome contrast to the extent to which my withered frame was highlighted by the torso, and too long; people think I'm slutty because I wear such short dresses all the time, but in truth it's a combination of the fact that anything above the knee is incredibly short when you're 5'11 in a world where the average is 5'4, and anything even remotely longish again makes me look like a man in drag. Lots of things make you look like a man in drag when you're very tall, it's quite difficult to navigate.

I tried on a pair of "skinny" jeans but my heart wasn't in it by then. They were a size 8 and I pulled them on without undoing them. That gave me a flashback to my childhood; I genuinely did not know until I was about 16 that it was normal to have to undo trousers before putting them on. I always thought the buttons and zips were decorative. These pulled across my hips, which at 30.5 inches are actually disproportionately wide for my frame (in another life, I could have been a pear shape) but gaped at the back; the too-short length meant they were so tight midway down I couldn't bend my knees to walk, whilst they simultaneously flapped sadly above my ankles like broken sails on ship against the rocks.

And so I went home with nothing but a new handbag, which was a very necessary purchase after yesterday an errant carton of yoghurt coated it and all my possessions within in a thick layer of delicious sticky goo, and then the zip broke within about an hour (I say handbag, in truth it's huge, I like to think it would make the Daily Mail suspicious of me as it is quite possibly big enough to stow a small illegal immigrant in).

I haven't cried yet, but I might do next time someone, particularly one of my friends who had really ought to know better but never seem to, tells me how "jealous" they are of my ability to eat what I want whilst maintaining a skeletal visage, or how they'd "kill" to have my figure. Really? You'd kill for this? For the privilege of not owning a single item of clothing that isn't either too big or too short and usually both? For the honour of trying on armfuls of clothing and not finding anything that doesn't make you look revolting while shop assistants titter on, casting aspersions about your physical and mental health? For having at least one person per month openly ask you if you eat? Shut up, seriously, you don't know what you're talking about.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Women Beware Women

Recently, my attention was drawn to a review of the new Sex and the City movie by critic Lindy West. To say I was disgusted would be an understatement. Lindy pulls off a rather special feat here - this may be the first ever time I've read a review condemning a film for alleged sexism by use of outright and appalling misogyny. I won't be reviewing the actual film as I've not seen it and I don't have any strong feelings either way on the franchise but I was so angered by the review, I thought I'd review that instead. Or at least offer a little constructive criticism, free of charge. Original review reprinted below, my comments in red.

We've been thinking it for two long years. All of us. Gnawing our cheeks at night, clutching at sweaty sheets, our faces hollow and gray, our once-bright eyes dimmed by the pain of too many questions. Sometimes we cry out, en masse, to a faceless god and a cold, indifferent universe that holds its secrets close. What... rasps the death rattle of our collective sanity. What is the lubrication level of Samantha Jones's 52-year-old vagina?Has the change of life dulled its sparkle? Do its aged and withered depths finally chafe from the endless pounding, pounding, pounding—cruel phallic penance demanded by the emotionally barren sexual compulsive from which it hangs? If I do not receive an update on the deep, gray caverns of Jones, I shall surely die! Where to start? I suppose Lindy thinks older women should be seen and not heard? And heaven forbid they should be heard talking about the menopause, the effects of which some women can actually find very upsetting, and whom might benefit from hearing other women talk unashamedly about her experiences. Even worse that they might *gasp* STILL HAVE SEX. FYI Lindy, being a woman and actively pursuing a sex life does not make you an "emotionally barren sexual compulsive". But hey, why let that get in the way of demonising women who are in control of their bodies? Here's my handy tip: read He's A Stud, She's A Slut by Jessica Valenti. I think you'll find it a revelation. And another FYI, 52 is not exactly ancient, so you might want to re-think "aged and withered", ffs.

Please don't die. The answer is... fine. Samantha's vagina is doing fine. She rubs yams on it, okay? She takes 48 vagina vitamins a day. It accepts unlimited male penises with the greatest of ease. Now let us never speak of it again. Vagina vitamins! More sexual shaming! Someone call for the doctor, my sides appear to have split.

Sex and the City 2 makes Phyllis Schlafly look like Andrea Dworkin. Or that super-masculine version of Cynthia Nixon that Cynthia Nixon dates. Or, like, Ralph Nader (wait, bad example—Schlafly totally does look like Ralph Nader in a granny wig).SATC2 takes everything that I hold dear as a woman and as a human—working hard, contributing to society, not being an entitled cunt like it's my job—and rapes it to death with a stiletto that costs more than my car. It is 146 minutes long, which means that I entered the theater in the bloom of youth and emerged with a family of field mice living in my long, white mustache. This is an entirely inappropriate length for what is essentially a home video of gay men playing with giant Barbie dolls. But I digress. Let us start with the "plot." Lindy sounds like she's about to come out as a feminist here, but that can't be right, as no feminist would belittle rape and the experiences of rape survivors by likening a film to being "raped" with a shoe. Most feminists don't go in for casual homophobia either, but that hasn't put Lindy off her "gay men playing with Barbie dolls" analogy. Cos gay men are all effeminate, geddit?!

Carrie Bradshaw: At the end of the first SATC movie (2008)—after eleventy decades of chasing his emotionally abusive jowls through the streets of Manhattan—Carrie finally marries Mr. Big, the man of her shallow, self-obsessed dreams. It has now been two years since their nuptials. Carrie already hates it. She hates that he sits on the couch. She hates that he eats noodles out of a take-out box. She hates that he wants to spend quality time with her in their incredibly expensive and gaudy apartment. She hates that he bought her an enormous television. When Big suggests that they spend a couple of days a week in separate apartments (they own TWO apartments, because life is hard!), Carrie screeches, "Is this because I'm a bitch wife who nags you?" Congratulations. You have answered your own question.

Miranda Redhairlawyerface: Miranda is a lawyer who has red hair. She also has a child. As a working woman, Miranda is forced to miss every single one of her child's incessant science fairs (as though children know anything of science!). Also, her lawyer boss is a cartoon dick. Miranda quits her job, and everyone is much happier. This is because women should not work. It is terrible for the children. Lindy would have a point, if it were not for the fact that I have been reliably informed the character get's another job soon after.

Charlotte Goldsteinjewyjewsomethingsomethingblatt: Life for Charlotte is unbelievably difficult. As a wealthy stay-at-home mom with two children and a live-in, full-time nanny, she sometimes has to bake cupcakes! Also, one time her little child got finger paint on a piece of vintage cloth. Therefore, Charlotte cannot stop crying. "How do the women without help do it?" Charlotte (crying) asks Miranda. "I have no fucking idea," Miranda replies. Then they toast their disgusting glasses of pink syrup. To "them." To the "women without help." "If I wasn't rich, I'd definitely just kill myself right away with a knife!" says everyone in this movie without having to actually say it. Clink! It's exactly this sort of crap that prevents women from being honest about finding motherhood difficult, creating more and more pressure on modern mums to live up to some unattainable ideal of perfect parenthood.

Samantha Jones: I told you we are never to speak of this.

In order to escape their various imaginary problems, our intrepid foursome traipses off to dark, exotic Abu Dhabi ("I've always been fascinated by the Middle East—desert moons, Scheherazade, magic carpets!"). When they arrive, Carrie, because she is a professional writer, announces, "Oh, Toto—I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!" Each woman is immediately assigned an extra from Disney's Aladdin to spoon-feed her warm cinnamon milk in their $22,000-per-night hotel suite. Things seem to be going great. But very quickly, the SATC brain trust notices that it's not all swarthy man-slaves and flying carpets in Abu Dhabi! In fact, Abu Dhabi is crawling with Muslim women—and not one of them is dressed like a super-liberated diamond-encrusted fucking clown!!! Oppression! OPPRESSION!!! Sex and the City doesn't strike me as the best vessel with which to approach the subject of female subjugation in the middle East, I'll grant you, but they're possibly due some credit for highlighting it to a wider audience. I'd have to watch. Lindy presumably sees no problem with women the veil, which is her prerogative, it divides feminists, but it's a legitimate area for debate.

This will not stand. Samantha, being the prostitute sexual revolutionary that she is, rages against the machine by publicly grabbing the engorged penis of a man she dubs "Lawrence of My-Labia." When the locals complain (having repeatedly asked Samantha to cover her nipples and mons pubis in the way of local custom), Samantha removes most of her clothes in the middle of the spice bazaar, throws condoms in the faces of the angry and bewildered crowd, and screams, "I AM A WOMAN! I HAVE SEX!" Thus, traditional Middle Eastern sexual mores are upended and sexism is stoned to death in the town square. Wow, so we're really going to call women who deign to enjoy sex whores now? Oh no wait, I see, she's crossed it out, how post-modern and ironic! That totally stops it being incredibly offensive, repressive, backwards and one of the patriarchy's favourite insults.

At sexism's funeral (which takes place in a mysterious, incense-shrouded chamber of international sisterhood), the women of Abu Dhabi remove their black robes and veils to reveal—this is not a joke—the same hideous, disposable, criminally expensive shreds of cloth and feathers that hang from Carrie et al.'s emaciated goblin shoulders. Muslim women: Under those craaaaaaay-zy robes, they're just as vapid and obsessed with physical beauty and meaningless material concerns as us! Feminism! Fuck yeah! All women, united? Lindy would clearly never stand for that. Was the personal comment about Sarah Jessica Parker's physical appearance totally necessary? Again, I don't think Lindy fully understands feminism; it generally tends to involve refuting beauty myths rather than perpetuating them. And you know, not calling women ugly.

If this is what modern womanhood means, then just fucking veil me and sew up all my holes. Good night. Don't fucking tempt me.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

All about me....

Self absorbed as I am, I have decided to dole out some nuggets of delicious information about yours truly for you to file away and use as potential blackmail material. Yeah, I'm bored, and a quiz just wont cover it.

* I always look for the pets in "Missing Dog/Cat" posters and am always sad when I don't find them.

* I don't get one night stands - what if you accidentally slept with someone who voted Tory?

* Most people like lip balms with sweet scents/flavours, I like the ones that smell like medicine and make your lips burn slightly - possibly because I'm a masochist, possibly because that makes it feel like it's working. I'm using Carmex at the minute, it stings, it's lovely.

* I think there is a fine line between "edgy comedian" and "complete cunt" and that Russell Brand has gone so far over it that the line is merely a dot on the horizon to him.

* I judge people on what newspaper they read. Guardian = excellent, Independent = fine, but I will ask what interest you find in a paper that is SO boringly self-righteous all the time, and what you thought of them having Kate Moss black up for a feature on third world debt the other year, The Times = tolerable, but we'll be friends, never lovers, The Telegraph = we might chat in passing, but friendship is unlikely, The Express = you don't have friends outside of the asylum anyway, The Daily Mail = I would stab you if I thought for a second I could get away with it, The Sun = If you like tits so much, buy Playboy, I'd have more respect for you, The Mirror = Is the best of the bunch so far as trashy tabloids go, but it's nothing to brag about, The Star/Daily Sport = I refuse to acknowledge your existence, no newspaper = I'm wary of you. What's your game?

* Relatedly, I don't get the recent trend for having famous models black up. Did the fashion world not get the memo that everyone else digested and mentally filed under "Probably a good idea to quit doing that" about 40 years ago? Do the models never say to the make-up artist, photographer, their agent "Um, are you certain this is wise"?

* Also relatedly, I have zero natural respect for people who read the sports pages first. No matter how big the game last night was, it is not more important than the *actual news*. Have some perspective!

* I thought I had way more of these, but I've forgotten them all.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Daily Fail - exaggerate the truth? Never!

A few things bother me about this story:

First of all, I am 5'11 with 24 inch waist and I do not look "shockingly skinny", as anyone who's met me in real life will attest. Thin, yes, I get that a lot, but only idiots suggest I have a problem. Also, I rather have doubts about the fact that she turned up to a casting and looked a glowing picture of health and then one week later was a bag of bones, unless she'd contracted a particularly fast-acting flesh-eating virus.

Second of all, the Fail claims in the sidebar (although not in the main article text) that the magazine airbrushed her to look three stone heavier. Now excuse me, but as previously stated, I am virtually the same size as the model in question and I've been told by various quacks that I'm between one and two stone underweight, and that's underweight in terms of what's "average" not the bare minimum that would be considered healthy. So three stone to make her look healthy? I don't think so. Yet another example of the Fail's constant manipulation of measures and statistics to scaremonger the population into being in a terminal state of panic, so that they might look to newspapers (one in specific, obviously) for guidance in this time of turmoil. Hey, that's how the right wing tabloid press works.

The size zero models are coming for you - RUN!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Good times for a change...

Just to give you a break from the perpetual bleakness of my posts (Is it my fault life is generally rubbish? No.) , I thought I'd bring you some good news. Well, good for me, not for you. I don't care about you, that's not how this blogging business works.

Anyway, I'm sure you've all been on the edge of your seats since my lost post detailing the ongoing saga of my casting for a job with the salon which is not to be named. You'll recall I wasn't chosen for the photographic section, which led to me questioning, again, whether my face is really that off-putting, but a question mark hung over my selection for the presentation day. Would I make the cut? Wouldn't I? (Haha, "make the cut" cos it's hair modelling job, innit?) I would!

Ok, so most VS girls aren't really models, so it's not so flattering in that sense, but hey, my nemesis, Agyness Deyn was spotted after a hair competition, so I remain optimistic about the exciting possibilities. And it is nice to be chosen regardless, considering how many jobs in a row I've been up for with them without having been picked, despite the fact that I am nominally a professional model. Also, for all my socialist values, I like money. I like it a lot. I think it's borne of my never having any. So £250 for a day's work? Yes please, Mr Hairdresser Sir. I miss the whole show crew too - maybe one more than others - it having been so long since I last did one for them, so should be a fun day. Was worried initially it would be depressing because the negative consequence of my sticking by the salon for three years when most flounce in and out after one cut is that every show brings in a fresh crop of near foetal newbies. And that can make me feel completely out of place but this time I've decided to view it as a positive - "I'm six years older than you and I still got picked - this means I'm better than you. Lets see if you're still here in three years, sweetheart." Boo-yah, like.

So all in all, good news, yes?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Some Facts

I'm going to give you a couple of facts here and let you do what you want with them.

1.) The upper-age limit on applications for new models with all the major agencies is 21 for women and 30 for men.

2.) Kate Moss is constantly derided in the press both for being 36 and for having a few lines on her forehead and around her eyes, which are airbrushed out in all her photos. The new advert for Calvin Klein's Eternity for Men shows a very handsome male model, in his mid thirties, with deep and visible lines on his forehead and around his eyes.

Is the industry sexist? Is the industry just a microcosm of the world in general? Do I like Morrissey?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Model Behaviour: The Result

Yes, I've decided to write this blog in the format of a tv talent contest. So, as you're all aware, last week our contestants attended a casting for a high profile shoot at a prestigious hair salon. They were put through their paces - quite literally - poked, prodded, photographed, interrogated, in some cases humiliated. The judges have been poring over polaroids all week, but now the results are in, and I can exclusively reveal that......I wasn't chosen to go through to the next round. Well, I assume I wasn't, since the shoot was on Friday and I wasn't informed of it until yesterday, so if they did pick me that was a hell of an administrative oversight.

Now is the point when I should be congratulating the winner, handing her a celebratory bunch of flowers....Screw that, if I had a bouquet I'd ram it down her throat. Yes, readers, there's a twist in the tale yet: the winner was my arch-rival, my stylist's new model. In three years I've never been able to give him a window, then one day she just walks in off the street...Now I know how Anne Boleyn felt.

(Un)Fortunately, this show is like the more latterday series of Big Brother, and just because a contestant is out, it doesn't mean they're out for good. I may be called back. Turns out the casting was for the catwalk show as well and tabloid rumours persist - producers emphasise that these are just rumours and you'll have to wait and see what happens for yourself in the next tension-packed episode - that I'm still being considered for that. It's all down to a leaked photograph of me that my mole on the inside saw stuck to a wall under a mysterious headline.

So it may be something and it may be nothing, but I'm back to waiting for a call. I do hope I get one. Partially because it's always nice to be chosen for something, even if it's not exactly what you wanted, partially because the shows can be quite lucrative and to say I need the cash would be an understatement. But I still had a sniffle yesterday when I got the news. It's silly because rejection is the name of this particular game and I knew that when I signed up, but this isn't just a random job I went for - I'm used to never hearing back from them. This was the same job that I've been up for half a dozen times and I've never got it. I've been working for (insert name of famous hair chain here, I'm not supposed to tell you myself) for three years and I've been picked for a couple of shows, a couple of presentations, not all of them paid either, but it was all towards the goal of getting that picture in the window. But I keep getting turned down flat, despite that I've basically dedicated my life to them for three years, had more cuts and colours than I can actually keep up with, and that kind of rejection is a lot more personal. It's a destructive kind of relationship; like a boyfriend who keeps dumping you so he can sleep with other women then taking you back when he gets bored.

What's bothering me more though, is the fact that they'll happily have me walk down the catwalk for them, but they shy away from using me for any kind of promotion that would involve people getting a close-up of my face. I'm aware that's a quite neurotic way of thinking about it, but the truth is I've long suspected that I've only ever got into this business off the back of the fact that I'm freakishly tall and thin, not because I've got the face for it, and that that's the behind the arrested development of my career. So this kind of serves as confirmation of that.

It doesn't sound like it, but I'm not actually moaning too much. I enjoy modelling, so getting to do any at all is great, and adds a much needed veneer of glamour to my otherwise terminally dull life. And like I said, I really hope I do get a call about this show. Just don't think this industry's all flattery, because it's not. I was insecure about my looks before I started modelling and I still am. And don't answer anyone in the same position as me moaning about their appearance with "But you're a model, you must be attractive!", because we will go into great detail explaining that striking (read weird/unusual) trumps attractive in the modelling world (which incidentally is the response that should be given to the people on the Daily Fail comments always saying they don't understand why Kate Moss is a model because they've "seen better looking girls working in Tesco"), and that a feature that is attractive in the modelling world, like extreme height, or even a big nose or gap teeth (Erin O'Connor, Lara Stone) does not always translate as well in the "real" life, where beauty is, contrary to popular criticism, much more narrowly defined. And possibly that you don't have to have the whole package to be a model if you have one desirable feature and are willing to work hard (though whether or not you'll ever make it to the cover of Vogue that way I guess is yet to be conclusively proved). And while that may dent the perfect fa├žade of modelling, it's a good thing.

So yeah, here's hoping for a call.

UPDATE: Yeah, I didn't get a call.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Model Behaviour

Given the name of this blog (cue confusion amongst those reading this on my Facebook page), I figured it was about time for a post about modelling. So allow me to walk you through a casting for a hair modelling job with a well known salon.

The first thing I usually feel upon walking through the door at a casting is a wave of envy accompanied by feelings of intense inadequacy (which can be verbalised thusly: "ohmygodthey'reallsobeautifulwhatthehellamIdoingherethey'regoingtolaughinmyface"), and last night was no exception.

My stylist's new model was there already, which added a new dimension to the competition - not only are we all competing for the same job, but we're all jostling for position as top dog with our respective stylists. I'm the incumbent on my patch, having seen off dozens of bright-eyed girls who disappeared after one haircut (lightweights), but I was still reduced to a jealous wreck by how beautiful this girl was. Her make up - flicked black eyeliner, glossy red lips - was clearly professionally applied, which seems to me like cheating, but this business is cut throat. Still, moral victory aside, I suddenly felt woefully inadequate in my flaky mascara and clear lip gloss.

The most irritating thing was, she was inexplicably popular with all the other models and stylists, despite the fact that her personality was totally abhorrent. She was wearing lacy knee socks and a headband for crying out loud, skipping around the salon like Alice in bloody Wonderland, dancing, singing deliberately off-key and being generally obtrusive. If I had any contacts in the criminal underworld I'd have sent out for some Ritalin and dosed the bitch. That's the second thing that struck me - having spent some time away from the scene recently, I'd forgotten just how vapid and self-absorbed most other models are. Great beauty often comes at the expense of some other characteristic, most commonly humility, intelligence or just not being really, really annoying.

Blow dry finished, I was whisked upstairs to join the queue of models all lining up to be judged like prize cattle. My stylist had somehow managed to procure me the number six, despite there being 50-odd people ahead of me, so to the front of the queue I went. "You - get in here" bellowed a female voice, no sooner than I had assumed my position. They don't much go in for niceties round here.

Standing at the far end of the room like a firing squad was a gaggle of the salon directors, including the man we all had to impress, whose official title, I believe, is Divine Master of the Universe. The whole process is designed to throw you off, with someone asking to see your card, someone taking your photo and the Divine Master of the Universe running his fingers through your hair and talking about cutting techniques all at once. I had to stand against a screen and pose for a few pictures holding up my model card like a prisoner number before they attached it to a polaroid (what is it with fashion people and bloody polaroids? No one looks good in them.) and then it was over almost as soon as it had begun, and I was making my way out of the door as the authoritarian voice yelled "NEXT!". Despite all my earlier feelings of inadequacy I left with a little superior glow because they didn't ask to see me strut my stuff down an imaginary catwalk (a horrifically unedifying process), the Divine Master of the Universe airily dismissing the suggestion, saying "we know she can walk". Sometimes it pays to be an old hand.

Of course, the glow didn't last long, and arriving back at my house a couple of hours later I was wracked with doubts. I don't think I opened my mouth in any of the photos. You're supposed to always part your lips slightly, but I have a tendency to purse mine and stare at the camera with what at the time I'm sure is effortlessly cool intensity, but always, always turns out several hours later when I try to recreate the expression at home in the mirror as a perfect representation of "sullen and uncooperative. And possibly constipated".

So for the next few days, maybe weeks, I shall waver between hopefully recalling all the nice things that were said (they always say nice things, they've been trained to smile as they kill) and crippling self doubt, remembering all the things I should have done differently. My fate, as is too often the case, is in the hands of a crack team of award-winning hairdressers. Wish me luck.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Things I have learned since Friday

As requested by Gordon Brown......

1.) If I am home all day, I can easily get through 10+ cups of tea.

2.) I am incapable of getting through this amount of tea without spilling at least half if it down my thigh.

3.) I have a very high sugar tolerance - the amount of chocolate I have eaten should have sent me into a diabetic coma.

4.) I enjoy the film 13 Going On 30.

5.) I do not enjoy that new Specsavers advert - it makes me want hurt people. Specifically the people who made it.

6.) If I can't get a newspaper I get really, really agitated.

7.) I can complete an entire case on CSI for the Wii in an hour and a half.

8.) Patrick Kielty is much funnier than I thought he was.

9.) My body spray does not taste as good as it smells.

10.) Thinking of things you have learned since Friday is hard when you haven't left the house.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

13 going on 30

I just watched the film 13 Going On 30 (Don't judge me. It's a Sunday, I'm bored, and I don't need to justify myself to you!) and it was really nice to see a positive representation of being 30. The British media, not to mention trashy chick-lit - I aim this straight at you, Helen Fielding, of dubious Bridget Jones' Diary fame - so routinely paint 30 as the misery year; desperately trying to find a man before it's too late if you stupidly haven't got one already, desperately trying to keep him if you do; worrying about your age, losing your looks, getting cellulite, blah, blah, blah....It makes me, and I'm by no means unique here, worry about reaching that age, for fear that my entire world will come crashing down around my ears.

Anyway, this film, showed 30 through a 13-year-old's eyes as exactly what I imagined it would be when I was a teenager - excitingly grown up, with a glamourous job, after work parties and drinking cocktails in bars, flirting with hot men in designer suits. No weighing herself daily and bitching about being *still* being single (of course it ended with the obligatory wedding and happily ever after, but we'll ignore that part).

Of course, she was a high flyer at a magazine; life probably wouldn't be as exciting if she worked in a bank, but considering high flyer at a magazine is what I'm aiming for, it suits me fine to believe it's all champagne and designer heels, despite the fact that I know full well a staff position at Elle pays £13,000 a year.

And at the moment I'm having issues being single at 26, let alone 30, because it seems that everyone else got engaged or at least settled down in their early twenties, and the men in bars are all 19-year-olds blowing their student loans on cheap lager which is ultimately going to end up mixed with a half-digested kebab all down the front of Topman's finest. And I don't really fancy men in suits. But maybe I'm just not hanging out in the right places yet.

The point is, even if the reality's not quite as glamourous as Hollywood would have us believe, we shouldn't neccessarily believe the doom and gloom pushed on us by bitter old tabloid hacks either. Watching that silly piece of Hollywood fluff has given me a whole new sense of perspective just by making me remember how I used to think before I got so damn cynical. And I'm kind of excited at the back of my mind now, not specifically about turning 30, but about the future in general; I am going to get a good job, I'm going to move out, I'm going to go to parties - what's not to like?

So here's my uncharacteristically optimistic advice for the day: next time you're feeling down, try and remember how your-13-year-old self would have felt about the situation. It might not solve your problems, but you might end up feeling a bit better.

Friday, 2 April 2010

A word of advice

As I've already stated, I judge you by your taste in music. All of you. Yes, even you. As such, and since I am bored, I thought I'd share with you seven bands/artists you should be listening to if you wish me to consider your existence worthwhile. It's all about quality, not quantity with me, there are surprisingly few bands I really, really love, which is probably a good thing as I'd have even less money than I already do if there were. It was going to be five, but I couldn't get it down that low though. In no particular order and with a song recommendation:

Everybody Was In The French Resistance...Now! - G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N
Manic Street Preachers - Peeled Apples
Art Brut - Emily Kane
The Smiths - Nowhere Fast
Suede - Killing Of A Flashboy
The Rakes - 22 Grand Job
Nightmare Of You - I Want To Be Buried In Your Backyard

Thursday, 1 April 2010

And this is why I love Topshop...

It's another one about age and fashion...

I'm a bit put out today, as I've discovered I'm not allowed to shop in GAP. Well, not, not allowed, I don't think they have sensors on the door or anything, but I'm undesirable: their target market is 18-25.

Now, I must confess, I do not, and have never owned an item of clothing from GAP. I've always found them overpriced and incredibly dull - I know they sell themselves on basics, but chinos and white t-shirts, really? That keeps them a market force? Also they have those horrible "greeter" people. Even when they just say "good morning" they're annoying. They don't really care whether or not I have a good morning and I, frankly, do not care whether they live or die - do not involve me in your web of lies!

I couldn't shop there if I wanted to anyway, given that they don't stock any size even close to small. I went in once, years ago (when I was still a valued potential customer) after hearing that they stocked a mystical new size, some "size 0" (as I say, this was years ago, before the media hysteria started in earnest). I approached a shop assistant, and she told me that while they did stock this new size 0, she wouldn't recommend it for me as she was wearing size 0 jeans from their new range, and she usually wore a UK 14. Oh, and their "Tall" jeans only came in standard 31" length - epic fail. And thus concludes my most successful ever visit to GAP.

So, while GAP's restrictive age policy has little effect on my life, this standard of "18-25" does. I hate arbitrary markers. You often hear the words "young people" and "18-25" bandied about in relation to fashion. Which is ridiculous, because I have never met anyone who on the morning of their 26th birthday awoke, burned all their clothing, went to the corner shop (naked, presumably) to buy one of those cheap lifestyle magazines that makes all it's money through adverts for mail order clothes companies aimed squarely at people who have given up not only on fashion but on life, called the number of the first one and said: "Send me a consignment of your finest elasticated waist jeans! And a couple of those cardigans with pearl-effect buttons that come in such exciting colours as "wheat" and "olive"! Ooh, and a plastic head scarf, I hear it's going to rain this week and the moisture plays havoc with my perm." Like I said, arbitrary markers - pointless.

I don't know anyone my age who doesn't shop in young fashion chains like New Look, Miss Selfridge etc because, well, why wouldn't we? We're young women who are interested in fashion. Truth is, I don't even understand where it is we're *supposed* to shop. If the assumption were just that we're more likely to be working and can afford better quality than so-called "throwaway fashion" it would be fine, but none of the "older but not old" type shops I can think of fit the bill; Oasis and Warehouse are expensive and plain, Zara is 90% boring office wear (I refuse to subscribe to the concept of office wear, despite working in an office. I wore my favourite grey dress to work yesterday - my friends will know that my favourite grey dress is legendary in its beauty, and its short, tight, straplessness - albeit with thick black tights and a jumper, that was my concession towards respectability. No one's complained yet.) and Dorothy Perkins manages to walk a fascinating tightrope between "designed by and for your auntie" and "my Cod, I'd look really tarty in that". Interestingly, if the Fail is right - remember, I said if - Zara's target age range is 20-28, so I have two years left in which to shop in a chain I have so far dismissed as far too old for me. Hmmm.

Largely none of this affects me because I prefer slightly mad independent clothes shops or vintage (sadly, I do not own any vintage, but still I prefer it) but I have to admit, I have a bit of a thing for Topshop. I do not know how they have managed to hang onto their reputation as being really cheap - I do not know anyone, I don't think, who considers £45 for a plain pair of jeans especially cheap - but cod, their clothes are *fun*!

I was reluctant to research their target market, because of all the fashion chains, Topshop has the worst reputation in terms of being labelled "teenage". Hence the manufactured outrage in some sections of the right wing press when Kate Moss launched her range there, because she's supposedly such a bad influence on the "impressionable young teens who make up its clientele". Plus, I read a piece in the Observer not long ago about how going into Topshop if you're over 25 is apparently "daunting" because everyone is "too young, too thin or too trendy". Nice stereotyping there - by that logic if you're over 25 you are also old, fat and unfashionable. Generalise much, fashion writer?

So, leaving aside the fact that I've just felt moved to write a piece about ageism and I'm only in my fucking twenties, I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, when I unearthed this recent quote from Topshop's creative directer: "Our target market is women aged 15-30, but internally (I don't understand what they mean by 'internally', but meh) our target is women of any age and any income who love fashion."

I knew there was a reason why I loved Topshop :)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Everything sparkles when there's glitter in your eyes

This is a question for people with a passion - do you ever wish you were normal? If you haven't, you're probably not as passionate as you think. Either that or you are the kind of person who has wallpapered their house with magazine cut-outs of Richard Branson's ear and do not realise this is not typical behaviour.

Sometimes I think my life would be a lot simpler without my various musical obsessions. Whether fairly or not I blame Nicky Wire for my endless romantic failures (actually, I blame Nicky Wire for everything). It's hard to get a first date, let alone a second one when the conversation turning to hobbies inevitably leads to you having to explain that yes, you do spend a great deal of time either sitting on pavements to get the best position at gigs (on the barrier, stage left if it's the Manics, between centre and stage right for anyone else. Going for dead centre is a rookie mistake, you'll get crushed and most bands gravitate towards the sides of the stage where there's more room to move about) or on trains on the way to a new and exotic pavement on which to sit and that no, you are not weird. My phone is littered with the numbers of men who took me on one date, quickly started looking either bored or frightened and never called again. It doesn't help that rambling about Manics/Morrissey/current new obsession is my default setting when I'm nervous, so the more I like the person, the worse it is (see a few posts down for an example of the kind of effect this has on a fledgling relationship). It probably also doesn't help that I *do* blame Nicky Wire for everything, and that I once invented a religion where Morrissey was God and James Dean Bradfield cast as spiritual tea.

Music can also alter your standards and make you judgemental. A man who I - fruitlessly - really like in *that* way once told me he hadn't heard of Morrissey and thought the Manics were shit. My soul wept, although my enthusiasm for wallowing in this latest unrequited attraction remains undimmed.

Even my own friends think I'm weird because of how strongly I feel about the music I love. I was even deleted by a couple of people on Facebook (though more acquaintances than real friends) who were baffled by my reaction to The Rakes splitting up out of the blue last year. If you don't really love the bands you love (if you see what I mean) you won't understand, but it was like being bereaved. The night I heard I was sat on the train home, trying hard not to cry in public and hoping it would turn out to be some big misunderstanding. I was angry and really upset when Alan announced less than a month - a month! - later that he had formed a new band. It was like when you're a kid and your parents split up and you secretly hope and pray that they'll get back together and then your dad remarries some trampy bottle blonde from his office and it happens so quickly that you think he MUST have been cheating with her when he was still with your mum.* I went through a fair few of the stages of grief but I don't think I've reached acceptance yet - I still can't listen to their songs but things keep reminding me of a beat or a lyric and then I can't get it out of my head and I have to listen to Radio One until they play something irritating (this does not usually take long) which will replace it.

I'm slightly suspicious that my arrested development on the career front is caused by a mix of procrastination (not Nicky Wire's fault) and a subconcious fear that if I settle down and get a "proper" job I wont be able to take endless days off a short notice to go wandering off to see bands play (defintely Nicky Wire's fault).

Of course, passions have their positives too. I was thinking the other day about the last time I went out dancing, and There Is A Light That Will Never Go Out came on and my friend Hanna and I simultaeneously screamed, leapt into one anothers arms and cleared a small swathe of the dancefloor jumping madly up and down and singing along at the top of our lungs, and I realised that no drug could ever have enhanced or emulated that experience. I'm so excitable when it comes to songs that I'm my own high.

So life would be so much simpler without roller-coaster intensity that comes with a life-long obsession. Music has ruined my life and saved it too. Do I wish I was normal? God no.

*I'm surmising, by the way. My parents are still married, but I ready as much Judy Blume as the next girl growing up.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

All Ages?

I am so, so infuriated by the Guardian Weekend magazine's "All Ages" fashion feature. On the face of it, it's a noble idea: fashion for all ages on models of all ages, rather than just the completely inappropriate teenagers (how many 14-year-olds do you know who regularly wear Dior evening gowns? Really?). Except, no. They still use a clearly teenage model every time, so they're still normalising the practice of using children to model adult women's clothes, and worse than that, it automatically pushes the model in her 20s into the role of "older". Oh, that's helpful, really.

I assumed, at first because it was five models, the all ages were teens, twenties, thirties, fourties fifties. But, every week, the first two models, without fail, look really, really young. So one of two things is going on here. Possibly the "twenties" model is consistently literally 20, perhaps 21. That instantly renders the "all ages" concept a complete lie, because the difference between 20/21 and 17/18 for the "teen" model is negligble and actually puts them both in the same age group, which is pretty bloody young. I could only imagine they're doing this because really it's in their best interests to continue re-inforcing the industry stereotype that models should be very young; by having two of basically the same age, they present them as the norm and the others as curiosities, the models who shouldn't be working because of their hideously advanced age, but have been rescued by the brave Guardian in the name of liberalism and equality.

The second option is that, since they never actually specify the models ages, they are not supposed to be rigidly divided by decade. This makes sense because often, particularly this, week, the one who should by rights be "thirties" only looks in their mid-late twenties. This is even worse than the previous scenario. An article like this should be a golden opportunity to point out that a model - and by extension, a woman - is not in fact "past it" at 25. That 25, 26, 27, 28 etc is young, and a completely normal, appropriate age to be modelling (hello, Agyness Deyn, Lara Stone, Miranda Kerr, Gisele - it's not like it's unheard of), but by placing a model who this week specifically I would judge to be around 28 as the *third* oldest they are again marking her out as old, as abnormal in the context of a fashion feature. That's a really fucked approach to what could have been an interesting, egalitarian and realistic representation of age and beauty.

It affects me, personally, on two levels. First of all it raises my feminist hackles, by re-enforcing the fetishisation of extreme youth in women, which has led to us to this situation where teenagers are routinely hyper-sexualised and presented as the female ideal while the press start making sniping comments about women in the public eye "getting on a bit" when they hit their mid twenties. Where Bridget Jones is soon enough going to be a believable character because we have it drilled into us every day that if you're not married before you're 30 you never will be, because who's going to want you now, you wizened old hag? You're nearly 29 for heaven's sake, YUCK. Now go buy yourself a few dozen cats and be done with it. I'd say I long for the day when men are subjected to the same treatment but truth is I don't, because it's horrible, and if we wilfully turned men into the kind of neurotic wrecks that the media seeks to make women, it would probably end in some kind of global suicide pact. Roll on, irreversible climate change, it's probably for the best in the long run.

Secondly, this kind of feature leaves me wondering where I fit in, professionally. I'm not 20 and I'm not 30 yet either. Too "old" to fit in with the widely accepted norm, too young to return triumphant as the face of the "older" woman in fashion. Do I give up entirely, or sit it out for a few years until my age will be better appreciated (much like a model who can no longer work the regular scene because she's grown to a size 12 but cant do plus-size modelling until she's gone up another two dress sizes. Or cheese.)? Or do I continue as is, immersing myself in an industry whose values I despise, railing against the prevailing culture because I believe Gandhi was right when he said "we must be the change we wish to see in the world" and I want to make it a better place, if not for me than at least for, well, someone elses children, as I don't plan on having any of my own?

Either way, well done Gruaniad. It was a nice idea, but with friends like you, who needs enemies?

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Enough with the stolen glances - can we just have sex?

I have a confession to make - I'm a terrible flirt. Not in the sense that I just can't control myself around attractive men, I mean I'm really, really bad at it. In my defence though, modern courtship is so bloody difficult, it's a miracle the human race hasn't died out as we all sat around trying to interpret that smile (friendly or flirtatious?) or that look (meaningful stare or staring into space?) - it's like analysing the bloody Mona Lisa.

There's a man in the office I've been eyeing up for a while. He came and introduced himself the other day ( making the first move or just being polite?) and since then I've had no idea where to look, or rather, how to look. Trying to look without looking like you're looking is tricky, especially when even though you don't wan't to look like you're looking, you want to look like you *might* be looking otherwise how else will they get the hint? And don't get me started on smiling (smile first or wait for them to smile first? And what if they don't smile, so you don't smile, but you're looking at each other and now you look like you're staring like a psychopath?) - it's a minefield!

As a precaution, I've taken to staring at the floor with the kind of zeal that could only be mustered by a lifelong subscriber to Carpet Enthusiast Weekly whenever I sense he may be around (creepy or coy? I think I know this answer to this one...).

I'll admit it's easier in nightclubs; sadly in the workplace it's far less acceptable to get regrettably drunk and pin that special someone against a wall to show how much you care by throwing up on their shoes. I don't really want to live in a world where we dispense with all pretence of courtesy and just proposition one another with impunity - and I'm actually not just looking for someone to warm my bed - but could we dispense with the games? My mental co-ordination isn't up to scratch; I'm getting a bit giddy. And you've got to admit, sex would make a pretty good ice-breaker.

F.A.K.E - in tribute to Lady GaGa

Can we take a moment to talk about Lady GaGa? I wouldn't watch the Brit Awards if you paid me, and thankfully I was out last night anyway, but the coverage this morning in the papers was inescapable, and the Guardian's breathlessly gushing comments on Lady GaGa, culminating with referring to her as "edgy and exciting" several times, left me feeling a bit sick.

Lady Gaga, make no mistake about this, is about as edgy and exciting as putting marmalade on your toast instead of jam. She treads nowhere a thousand others before her haven't left a footprint. The elctro pop sound? Similarly irritating and underdressed popstrel Kylie Minogue debuted it a decade ago, and did it better, although GaGa has got the edge in "inspiring" a greater slew of even more depressing imitators (yes, Ke$ha, I'm talking to you).

Regular readers of my rants both here and elsewhere will know I despised GaGa from the moment I read an interview with her where she confessed to wearing as little as possible as often as possible because it got her picture in the papers. But the sad fact is, flashing your gash for cash (in lieu of or inspite of any actual talent) is not a new phenomenon (see The Saturdays, Girls Aloud, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue and Jessica Simpson for examples).

Judging by the slavish coverage given over daily to her latest kerrraaaazzzy outfit and wig combo (will she be holding a giant teacup? Won't she? THE SUSPENCE IS KILLING ME!) by certain quarters of the media, I can only conclude that "edgy and exciting" boils down to "deliberately dresses like a twat". Is that all it takes to impress on the music scene these days? An obviously cynically faked image? Have we sunk to that depth of superficiality? It's not even original! Think back, if your mind stretches that far, to the 1980s. Prince Charming....Prince Charming...Ridicule is nothing to be scared of....Lady Gaga is actually Adam Ant, only with worse hair!

Lean in closer comrades, and I'll tell you something you won't read in NME. If you want "edgy and exciting" you wont find it wrapped in bacofoil at the Brit Awards. You'll find it in the early 90s, when the Manics reclaimed 70s glam rock and turned it from a joke into a musical and moral statement. You'll find it with bands like Hot Chip, striking out with the synth in a slew of guitar-led landfill indie. You'll find it with Everybody Was In The French Resistance...Now!, whose charmingly witty and intelligent response songs are pure pop gold, and like nothing else in the charts (which is probably why they're not in the charts). Originality is out there, but if you think you've found it with Lady GaGa, you're not looking hard enough.