Got a spare 2 hours?

Then you should watch this! This is the event I went to last week and the speakers are phenomenal, like really. Some people have the ability to put into words what others are thinking. And doing it in a way that awakens the interest of those who might not have thought about it before.

I want to continue and address what each of these speeches are trying to say. But first, watch it, so that we’re on the same page!

#womenleaders

Goodness me, we’re loving hashtags these days innit! I went to Women in Leadership event last Wednesday that I’ve been wanting to write about, but there are so many things to say, and so many great women to lift that I think it’s gonna have to be broken down into several smaller bits.

I just wanted to put this here for now, so I don’t forget about it! So maybe something of a #womenleaders mini-series on here would be nice? It really did inspire me, and humble me to see so many amazing women who are different in personality with different lives and experiences, still showing up at the same place, fighting the same fight.

These were the five speakers at the event that I’ll be expanding a bit more on in the coming days/weeks!

Liz Bingham, Managing Partner for Talent at EY
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
Ceri Goddard, Director of Gender at the Young Foundation
The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

A word on advertisement

In my last post I shared a video (advert) from Always where they highlight the phrase “like a girl” and how most people associate it with something bad.

I first saw this clip over a week before I shared it, and my initial reaction was not to share as it was made by a multinational corporation who were already getting a load of free advertisement with their clip going viral. In the end I did decide to share it anyway as I thought there was a good message behind it. So although I don’t regret sharing the video, I do feel like I need to insert some refection here on what it actually means.

It’s my firm belief that feminism and capitalism can never work in symbiosis. After all capitalism is based on the foundation that some people are better than others, whereas feminism’s pillar of foundation is everyone’s equal worth. So when a company like Always (owned by Procter & Gamble) release this ad – yes, I do think it’s a good message – they are doing it to make money. Perhaps I didn’t think about it as an advert much as I don’t personally use any of these products, but in the last week (reading several long discussions about it) it’s dawned on me that it’s a source of insecurity for many young girls and teens growing up (myself included around 15 years ago).

Always (and more widely, P&G) are a company who make money off that fact that they have created “problems” that girls are made to feel insecure about. Then they market products to solve these problems. Such as scented pads and tampons. And even though we know that this video is in fact an advert (their logo is plastered all over the place), and we think we can make an active choice, 90% of the messages we get though media are received subconsciously. So the next time we’re stood in that aisle in the shop, choosing what product to buy, the fact that this video has been circulated millions of times has given Always an upper hand. All for free! And the people they hire who make these campaigns are well aware of that.

To shift the balance of this viral video back into (more of an) equilibrium, here are some other stuff that P&G do – proof that they don’t actually give a shit about women and girls confidence:

- They sell Venus razors, promising that hairless legs will make you a ‘Goddess’
- All their TV adverts for Ariel only ever show the woman doing the laundry
- They “feel a responsibility to celebrate African-American women and challenge the sometimes difficult ways our beauty is reflected in popular media” all the while making profit from selling skin-whitening creams in Africa and Asia

So although I really do support the message that’s given in the #likeagril video. I’m very weary of it being fed to lots of people for free. And I think it’s important to reflect on any message that is in fact put out there with the purpose of selling a product.

You don’t have to be pretty

Re-blogged from here!

 by Andy Warhol

So the other day, folks in the comments were talking about leggings. I’m pretty agnostic about leggings, but the whole discussion (which centered on the fact that it can be *really* hard to look good in leggings) got me thinking about the pervasive idea that women owe it to onlookers to maintain a certain standard of decorativeness.

Now, this may seem strange from someone who writes about pretty dresses (mostly) every day, but: You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

I’m not saying that you SHOULDN’T be pretty if you want to. (You don’t owe UN-prettiness to feminism, in other words.) Pretty is pleasant, and fun, and satisfying, and makes people smile, often even at you. But in the hierarchy of importance, pretty stands several rungs down from happy, is way below healthy, and if done as a penance, or an obligation, can be so far away from independent that you may have to squint really hard to see it in the haze.

But what does you-don’t-have-to-be-pretty mean in practical, everyday terms? It means that you don’t have to apologize for wearing things that are held to be “unflattering” or “unfashionable” — especially if, in fact, they make you happy on some level deeper than just being pretty does. So what if your favorite color isn’t a “good” color on you? So what if you are “too fat” (by some arbitrary measure) for a sleeveless top? If you are clean, are covered enough to avoid a citation for public indecency, and have bandaged any open wounds, you can wear any color or style you please, if it makes you happy.

I was going to make a handy prettiness decision tree, but pretty much the end of every branch was a bubble that said “tell complainers to go to hell” so it wasn’t much of a tool.

Pretty, it’s sad to say, can have a shelf life. It’s so tied up with youth that, at some point (if you’re lucky), you’re going to have to graduate from pretty. Sometimes (as in the case with Diana Vreeland, above, you can go so far past pretty that you end up in stylish, or even striking (or the fashion-y term jolie laide) before you know it. But you won’t get there if you think you have to follow all the signs that say “this way to Pretty.” You get there by traveling the route you find most interesting. (And to hell with the naysayers who say “But that’s not PRETTY”!)

Balance

The Bikram didn’t last. I tell myself that it wasn’t for me, but in all honesty I think I just got lazy. It started with the one day break in the middle, and then I managed to go up til the weekend. For various reasons I felt it was more important to be at home, and so the last week just passed by. In the end I managed 14 days. I did enjoy it most of the time. Sometimes the studio was really full, like after work when everyone goes. And I had a couple of off days when it just didn’t feel like I could get into the postures properly. Mind wandering and all that. Still happy I tried it though.

There’s a lot of stuff going on at the moment, most of which I’d like to keep to myself for a little bit longer… so the absence from here is not due to lack of things to write about, more me keeping tabs on myself and not getting ahead of myself.

This Saturday is midsummer… which means that just about half of the year is left. And I feel like I have a lot of stuff to do and finish before this year is up. Both work wise and privately, there are goals I’ve set myself and I’ve been almost hibernating rather than making things happen. The past couple of weeks though, I’ve gotten the kick up the backside that I needed to start mobilising my brain. I know if this makes very little sense, but that doesn’t really matter, just bear with me while I balance my brain out a bit.

Bikram

Hi there! Long time no see. I guess I sort of ran out of things to write about after the Marathon (it had pretty much been consuming all my time – and space on here). I still haven’t been out for a run, even though I intended to yesterday, time (or lack thereof) got the better of me.

I’ve been spending the last 10 days in a heated studio doing Bikram Yoga. This consists of 90 minutes in a room close to 40 degrees hot, trying to complete these lovely poses:

bikram

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, besides the heat, but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by how well I’m taking to it. Yes, it’s hot and sweaty, and yes it’s really hard, but the fact that it’s the same poses, means that I can see how much I’m progressing really well. I’ve managed to bend into all sorts of shapes now that I couldn’t have imagined 10 days ago! And the sweating is said to be detoxifying, which I’m hoping will benefit me in some way.

It’s also quite interesting how aware of food and drink I’ve become since doing this. I’ve been consciously drinking a lot more water than usual to keep hydrated. And I’ve been making heather food choices (the exception being dinner at Spoons last night) as I feel cleaner and clearer after Bikram, and don’t want to mess it up with heavy foods or alcohol.

Now, the initial goal was to go every day for 20 days. Yesterday was my 10th session, and it wasn’t a great one to be honest (it goes a bit up and down). I felt stiff and slow and a little bit achy. So I’m taking a leaf out of the running book actually, and I’m listening to my body. I’m gonna have a break today so that I can go back tomorrow and complete the last 9 days of this.

I still don’t know yet whether I’ll continue after these 20 days or not. Or how often I would go after this. I think I’ll have to wait til these 20 days are up before I decide. But if you haven’t tried it before I can strongly recommend it! Most studios do really cheap and good introductory offers, like the one I’m on now. Some even offer 30 days for a reasonable amount!