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I’ll Wear What I Like

I love make-up. I love wearing it, I love buying it and I love trying it. But I don’t wear a lot of it very often because frankly, I feel self-conscious. How many times have I heard someone being called out on the make-up they wear: Are you going out on a date? Who’s the lucky guy? Are you trying to impress someone? Hell yeah, I’m trying to impress me!

Sometimes, I wake up and I think today I’m going to make an actual effort with my appearance. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel powerful. Like yes, I’m wearing a beautiful red lipstick and I can get shit done whilst I’m wearing it. Yet, there’s this assumption that you’re trying to show yourself off. There are streams and streams of men online complaining about how women use make-up to lie to them. Lie to them. Don’t you think there are much easier (and cheaper) ways to do that?

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For one thing, wearing a lot of make-up, and doing it well is just another new trend; how many videos have you seen of girls doing their make-up online? You don’t get berated for wearing a crop top and high-waisted jeans because you’re trying to show off to boys. Everyone knows you do it because you look cute af. So why should make-up be any different? Why does it have to be for someone else?

Sure, for a lot of girls, they are trying to impress someone. And it’s such a shame that we’ve lost our way so entirely as a society that there are girls who think the best way to do that is by covering as much of their face as possible. Yet it’s understandable why they think that with ridiculous movies like ‘Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs’ and its advertising campaign suggesting that one type of body is more beautiful than another.

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And it doesn’t help when other women are just as bad as men.  Honestly, how many times have you heard your friend talk shit about a girl’s eyebrows, or how much foundation she’s wearing? And if you have (I know I have), did that really make you feel any better about yourself?

As for the people who think that all the girls who wear make-up are dumb and won’t get far in life or aren’t ‘true’ feminists – just think for a second. Think about Beyoncé, Emma Watson, Michelle Obama. Do you really think they rolled out of bed that way? Hell, they’ve got whole teams of people to do their make-up. So that they can feel confident and empower women – and show us just how easy it is to do both.

Feminism isn’t about whether you shave, or wear make-up or pamper yourself. How many times do we have to say it – it’s about equality. It’s about not judging people or treating them badly because they do things a bit differently to you. You do you. As for me, I’ll wear that beautiful red lipstick.

 

Words by Jessica Yang
Images from YouTube and Locus

I’m tired of fighting.

I’m a 20-year-old woman in her final semester of university, and in my spare time I write and edit for this website that I started almost a year ago. I haven’t posted much recently for two reasons: firstly, I’ve been working on a dissertation among a few other deadlines at university, and secondly, I’m exhausted.

My friends all like to wind me up for being a feminist. They like to tell me about stupid things people have said who claim to be feminist but aren’t (if you hate men, you’re not a feminist, so if you would kindly stop dragging the rest of us down, I’d be grateful). I have colleagues too, everyone enjoys telling me about stupid things ‘feminists’ have done, or how they enjoy taking them down online. Obviously, for them, it’s very funny, but for me, it’s wearing. I always clarify what feminism is and why I believe in it, but it doesn’t stop it. 

“Power to the Girls”

When I see girls, particularly younger girls and teens wearing t-shirts that say anything feminist, I smile. I’m so glad that the work of previous generations won’t end, and I’m hopeful that the future will be better. But I’m also not an idiot. I know full well that some minds won’t be changed. I know that Trump isn’t going to come out tomorrow and say ‘Gee those feminists are on to something’, nor are the Daily Mail going to cover female politicians saying ‘aren’t these women smart and powerful’ instead of talking about their legs (don’t get me started).

I know we aren’t equal. We don’t think equal. And I can’t help but agree with Emma Watson in thinking that we won’t be equal. I don’t see equality in my lifetime. I’d love to, but if it took a woman getting crushed by a horse to get us the bloody vote, I dare not ask what it would take to get where we want to be. 

I’m a feminist. I don’t really care about my personal equal pay because I’m paid the same as my male colleagues, but I care about the statistics suggesting black women lose out on almost 40% of white men’s wages1234. It’s not about me, but I still care about it. I raise an issue with men’s pressure to be manly and unemotional as it leads to dangerous numbers of suicides and mental health issues. I struggle with the international treatment of women such as FGM, truancy because of periods, rape, child marriage, and so on. It’s not something I will experience in this country, so should I just turn a blind eye? No, because I’m not an arsehole. This is deathly important and we’re all just making out like it’s not our problem.

The skirt in question…

I face issues in this country that anger me on a daily basis. It was the hottest weekend of the year so far recently so naturally, I wore a skirt, but with trainers and a long sleeve top. That didn’t matter though, legs were visible, so three different men in cars slowed to shout things or whistle. You can bet that made me feel horrible. I wanted to put my jeans back on and suffer in the heat because I felt so uncomfortable that 3 different cars of men felt perfectly comfortable to make comments on my appearance and sexualise me. It’s absolutely disgusting. It is not a compliment to make someone feel unsafe. I don’t need to excuse myself, that is not a compliment.  

I’m really sick of being called girly for liking pink, watching a lot of Julia Roberts films, and shopping excessively. These things make me happy (plus I walk double my normal steps a day when I shop so at least I’m exercising), but it’s stupid because I’m a girl and girls are stupid. I’m just so fed up. I could honestly just curse for hours and throw things because I’m so damn sick of all of it.

Why should I get stressed out because I care about something that is inherently right? It is moral, and just. It is not that we are asking a lot, we are asking for life as it should be. I should not be less than a man, nor treated less than, because I am not less than a man. I am equal. I am equal to a man. 

The necklace I now wear on a daily basis

I’m so tired of doing this. Sometimes I don’t want to do it anymore. Sometimes I think, like right now, that I don’t want to be a feminist anymore because it’s so much hard work and no one cares in the slightest what I think. I feel as though I’m wasting my time, and annoying my friends. It’s ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to fight in the first place, let alone be questioned for doing the right thing. I know I’ll post this and someone will either question a point I have made, or people will continue to joke about being a woman or a feminist and how I am lesser.

As someone who struggles to keep her head up a great deal of the time, I don’t really need the extra negative emotion that comes with pushing the way I do. I’m constantly down, or humiliated, or angered, or panicked, or uncomfortable and I could cry just thinking about how bad I am made to feel. I just want it to stop.

I’m doing the right thing. So either join me or leave me alone because I can’t leave this fight. I made a commitment, I started a platform to help, and I can’t quit. It’s so exhausting and even if I don’t want to do it anymore, I have to. If you have no support to offer, I’d kindly ask you to leave off, and save everyone the unnecessary negative emotion; there’s enough going around as it is. 

The Guardian: ‘Gender wage gap costs minority women more than $1m in some states
2 National Women’s Law Centre: ‘The Lifetime Wage Gap by State for Black Women
Bustle: ‘8 Startling Statistics That Show How The Pay Gap Affects Women Of Color Differently
4 American Association of University Women: ‘The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap

Words and images by Briony Brake

There’s Nothing Wrong With Being

Recently, I read an article that defended Mandi Gosling’s boobs. Her dress at the Oscars meant she looked great, but all anyone could talk about was her breasts – like breasts are something new and unheard of. Sure she looked great, and yeah she’s got boobs, but really? Like is that all we care about now? We’re not even going to pretend we like her dress first?

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There was literally nothing about Mandi that didn’t mention her cleavage. When I did finally find this article in defence of her boobs I was overjoyed, until I got to the end of the piece. The article started to talk about how we should be grateful that Mandi wasn’t like all the other ‘stick’ women on the red carpet that night.

Using the word ‘other’ when talking about women is outrageously problematic. Don’t defend someone by putting someone else down, that’s not how it works. Mandi Gosling isn’t ‘different’ because she has cleavage. I have cleavage for God’s sake, so do half my friends, so do members of my family, and strangers I pass on the street. Cleavage is just boobs. Boobs are just boobs. Get over it. Don’t call people out and say they’re different for having boobs, and don’t call them out for not having boobs.They’re just women, and they’re just people.

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Take a look at this picture of Ashley Tisdale. She looks great. It’s a great dress. She turned up to a charity event wearing it, which was quick to be followed by Twitter users writing that she looked pregnant (and most of them weren’t nice about it). To me, she doesn’t look pregnant, she looks like she usually does. However, when people say female celebrities look pregnant, they mostly just mean it looks like they’ve put weight on. Again I can’t help but think, why the hell do you care?

All these articles always get me a little stressed out because I can never understand why anyone gives a shit about who has a bit of flab, or who had a nip-slip, or who got botox. I do not care. I never have, and if I ever do, I hope you all slap me round the face until I snap out of it. Just because they’re celebrities why should it mean we’re allowed to bully them? Famous men and women are both subjected to this kind of treatment, but it does seem to come part and parcel of being a female celebrity as opposed to some of the male celebrities who we don’t seem to criticise, for example, the wonderful Chris Pratt whom we love on the left, or on the right. But then double standards are also inbuilt with this whole issue.

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At the end of the day, my point is that we shouldn’t be so hard on people for being the way they are. It sounds obvious, and it sounds like something we should already be doing, but it isn’t. We talk about celebrities for being fat, thin, breasty, flat-chested, pregnant-looking, old, flabby, or whatever, but what’s arguably worse is that we even do it to people we know. We talk about people we used to know, or people in our classes, or ou jobs, and talk about them behind their back. I’m not necessarily saying w should all be nice to each other all the time (mostly because it’s impossible), but there’s just no need to criticse people for being the way they are if they can’t help it, or if they’re happy. If Mandi Gosling wants to wear that dress to a televised event, she probably couldn’t care less what you think about her boobs.

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If Mandi Gosling wants to wear that dress to a televised event, she probably couldn’t care less what you think about her boobs. If I wear skinny jeans and a crop top on a night out, I know it doesn’t look that nice when I sit down, because as a human who doesn’t exercise, I have a belly. I’m only 20, but I’ve had plenty of photos taken of me when both my friends and I have laughed about how ‘out’ my boobs are. Let me tell you, I will wear what I want, and what makes me feel comfortable or nice, and if you want to talk about it then go ahead, but frankly there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being comfortable and happy in yourself. There’s nothing wrong with wearing v-necks if you have big boobs, and there’s nothing wrong with wearing things that show off something you’ve worked for, or something you’re proud of. Wear what you want for god’s sake.

You do you xo

 

Words by Briony Brake
Images from Maxim, Romper, GymViral, NY Magazine

My Body Image & I: From Feud to Friendship

Body Image. Seems like quite a self-explanatory phrase doesn’t it; an accurate reflection of your body. But it hasn’t meant that in a long time. Instead it stands for the dislike many young people feel towards their own bodies, how uncomfortable they feel in their own skin, how looking at themselves in a mirror makes them feel like they’re never going to be good enough.

“I’m too fat.”
“My hair’s too frizzy”
“My nose is too big”
“My cheeks are too round”
“I don’t have long legs”

Words you would never think of saying to the people around you. So why do we talk like that about ourselves? Thinking more about your body during puberty is normal. We develop, we grow, we change and all do so differently. And that’s normal. But when I was growing up looking at adverts spread across billboards and magazines all I saw were the perfect bodies of models and celebrities.

I began to see this ‘perfection’ as normal, found myself wanting to achieve beauty standards that are beyond possible without the help of Photoshop or silicone. Looking at myself in the mirror, I was constantly comparing; my waist wasn’t as small as the celebrity’s in the next advert so I was fat, my hair wasn’t as smooth as the model’s in the magazine so I was obviously ugly. This seeped into everyday life. I saw girls in school who seemed to have achieved this amazing image, making me question what I was doing wrong. Why couldn’t I look like that too?

The sad reality was that seeing the girl sitting in front of me in class with a figure like Kate Moss, my first thoughts weren’t “she looks lovely like that and I look lovely as I am” or “everyone is built differently, I shouldn’t compare myself”. Instead thoughts of “why don’t I have that figure?”, “I need to lose weight”, “she looks amazing and I look horrible in comparison” led me to continuously beat myself up about the way I looked. Influenced by the media, my self-esteem was pushed down to a point of sadness and self-loathing, never feeling like I was perfect.

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I looked at myself in the mirror and cried. Got angry. Was I fat? No. I was overweight for my age by a few kilograms, but I was also 12, loved the Sugababes and covered my Facebook profile pictures in stickers. I was a normal child, with a bit of puppy fat that would disappear in a few years’ time. I had nothing to worry about. But everything made me feel like I did. I was sure that I’d never be thin or pretty and therefore never good enough.

Honestly, I had this mind-set for most of my teenage life, until I came to what I thought was the solution. Of everything I saw when I looked in the mirror my weight bothered me the most. So I decided that action needed to be taken. I monitored my diet, measured portions, made sure I covered all food groups, didn’t eat sweets and followed a strict exercise plan. Did I lose weight? Yep. Did I feel amazing? Nope. But to me this was the logical solution. Alter my body until I looked like I thought I should.

I’m 5”3, let’s be real I was never going to look like a model, but that didn’t even cross my mind. I was determined to carry this through until I felt happy with myself. Until I came to uni, struggled with my course and fell into this pit of sadness. I would look at myself in the mirror, and see my round 12-year-old self. No matter what weight I had lost, it still hadn’t given me the confidence or the happiness I so desperately wanted.

Throughout first year, with the help of some fab people, I did a lot of thinking, learning about myself and appreciating who I am to get myself out of the rut I had become stuck in. And this led me to a realisation. My body image had far less to do with how I actually looked, and far more to do with how I thought of myself. I didn’t see a confident and happy person because I wasn’t. I was broken and frail and that made me feel worse and worse about myself.

I realised that it felt so much better having positivity shine through your body, than having my positivity rely on my body.

Appearance is never something to rely on. Everyone who looks at you will perceive you differently, and most likely won’t be half as critical as you are of yourself. Any physical change you make, should be to aid your mental well-being, something you want to do, not something you feel like you have to do. I wear make-up, because I enjoy it and I honestly find it relaxing, but I don’t feel any less pretty not wearing it. I just feel normal. Like me. Which is why it’s so important that you learn to understand yourself as a person, not just a shell.

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Study your personality in as much detail as you would otherwise look at your face for spots. Know your ins and outs, the things you love, the things you want to improve and familiarise yourself. They’re yours. And next time you go out wearing that crop top you doubted would suit you, think about yourself. Not your appearance. But you – your great sense of humour or your open-minded attitude. The satisfaction you feel with yourself will emanate from you like a confidence you’ve never experienced before.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to go to the gym 5 times a week and tone up, you do that! But do it because you’ll feel good showing off your hard work or it’s your hour to get away from everything, not because you won’t go to the beach this summer without a “bikini body”.

Now, someone out there will have read this and thought “but there’s nothing good about my personality either”. I know this, because a few months ago, I would have thought the same. Learning to love yourself is a journey that everyone has to go on themselves, at their own pace, with their own ups and downs. But I do have a word of advice, something a friend told me recently which has really stuck with me: go out, and do something good.

Don’t think about whether you’ll be good at it, don’t even think about it too long. Just do something good. Be it buying a homeless man a meal, or baking muffins for a bake sale. Something that you can walk away from, knowing that deed benefitted someone besides you. And from that point forward, every time you doubt yourself, or think there’s nothing to have a positive attitude about, remember that thing. Remember the good you did and it’ll help remind you that you are, and always will be a valuable human, an amazing person, someone you can always be proud of.

There are days where I wake up, take one look at myself and feel so sad. My mood reflects in my appearance and I just feel worse and worse. So instead, I for example, remind myself that I’m vegan [oooo controversial] and that through that I’m doing so much good for the planet, which in turn makes me very happy. So yes on that day I might think my thighs are too big, or my eyes are too small, but that’s okay, because I know that I’m more than that, in fact I’m great, so I smile and carry on with my day, and I hope that after this, you lovely ladies and gentlemen do too.

 

Words by Maxene Sommer
Photos courtesy of Maxene Sommer

What We Share Is More Powerful Than What Divides Us

Many of you may be familiar with the gender equality initiative known as HeForShe, largely down to its association with the wonderful Emma Watson (also Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women). HeForShe is a solidarity campaign that’s actually under the wing of UN Women and you may remember in 2014 when Watson took to the floor of a UN meeting to discuss feminism. “Why has the word become such an unpopular one?” she asked us.

Since then HeForShe has grown massively; despite falling short of their 2015 goal to engage one million men and boys, they have reached over a billion gender equality actions, and it goes up every few minutes. The site shows a recorded 1.3 billion conversations taking place on Twitter and Facebook, 833K commitments, and over 1.1K events that had been held to aid the cause (for future reference, these figures were correct as of 3 May 2016).

So why am I talking to you about HeForShe? Because I follow them on Facebook, and couldn’t be more amazed at the level of balance in their work, and their campaigning. This is to say that recently, HeForShe have been running two campaigns on social media.

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The first being largely Twitter based, and asking users how they live #BeyondLabels. This has been a very comforting campaign running to support those who don’t work alongside the gender binary. The campaign has even been quite light-hearted in supporting men who declare their love for Mean Girls, the colour pink, and emotional movies – because why the hell shouldn’t they? The second of their campaigns however, is the one I’m trying to get you to pay attention to today.

Emma Watson has endeavoured to clarify that feminism is nothing to do with men-hating, and thank God. As explained before here on ‘Anthem’, feminism is equality of the sexes, not the promotion of one over the other. Equally, I’m sure a lot of you have seen videos and posts from women saying they are not a feminist because they support men. Again, real honest feminism supports both. Feminism wants to solve both sides of the problem. As a result, the recent campaign about what we share highlight the problems affecting both men and women, and just why we need to start dealing with them.

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The campaign has looked at cyberbullying, body image and mental health with images like those seen embedded here. One of the biggest issues is that of mental health in links to high suicide rates in men. Something I’ve always been concerned about, these rates aren’t getting better, and it’s going to be a lot of work in fixing that. HeForShe has been busy sharing articles and posting about the worry surrounding men speaking out, expressing their emotions, and of course the inability to do so which has led to such high rates.

As it stands, 12 men a day are killing themselves in the UK. If this doesn’t make your stomach turn, I honestly don’t know what will. It’s horrible to think that subconscious gender socialisation has led to an entire gender feeling incapable of saying how they feel, struggling, battling with dark thoughts, and with a small number of them succumbing to those thoughts and ending their lives. To put it in perspective by gender, 3/4 of all UK suicides are men. You see what we’re saying here?

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HeForShe have highlighted some pretty useful statistics. Most people are aware that numbers don’t mean people; not everyone comes forward, not everyone shares their truths. A lot of Facebook users have attempted to dispute these numbers by stating this, but realistically this means that their images are only more worrying, and more people of both sexes have been bullied online, are unhappy with their weight, or have struggles in the workplace that we don’t know about.

This campaign puts out some important, but slightly saddening data. As seen above, 1 in 2 girls, and 1 in 3 boys are unhappy with their weight. This is the kind of number that just makes me mad. No child, particularly one that young, should feel so conscious already. Of course, it sounds idealistic to say we should all just be happy little butterflies and love ourselves and others and then that would solve everything, especially when I’m a realist. 

The point of this is not to feel sad about life. The point of this is to show that men and women, we’re not so different. When Watson took to the stage in 2014, she invited men toward feminism, because gender equality was their fight too. The #WhatWeShare campaign demonstrates this perfectly. Depression is not a woman’s problem, suicide is not a man’s problem. Mental health is our problem. The sooner we work together, the sooner the problem can be resolved, or at least helped.

What we share is more powerful than what divides us, and what we share can lead to a greater gender equality, to a better friendship between gender, and a better chance for everyone being limited by how they identify in life. HeForShe is a global initiative led and supported by a lot of smart men and women who are genuinely striving for equality, and in the mean time, for a better society. I highly suggest you get on board by following them on social media, or pledging your commitment online.

If you want to be part of the change there is nothing stopping you. 

 

Words by Briony Brake
Images courtesy of HeForShe/UN Women
Statistics courtesy of Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)