christmas

An Eco-Friendly Gift Guide For 2019

It’s time for another festive gift guide! This list is all about gifts that are sustainable, recycled or eco-friendly in some way.

I know I’ve got some eco items on my Christmas list this year, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites that might inspire you, whether shopping for a loved one or looking to treat yourself (or both!).

BATOKO Lobster Swimsuit, £50

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While the entire collection of recycled plastic swimsuits from BATOKO are brilliant and stylish, the vegan-friendly brand recently partnered with the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, Cornwall who will release a baby lobster back into the sea for every one of these swimsuits bought. A double win!

 

TALA Activewear, from £25

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The second of influencer Grace Beverley’s three successful business ventures, six-month-old TALA aims to create not just sustainable but stylish and inclusive activewear. Their products are almost entirely upcycled (from plastic bottles and factory offcuts) with completely recycled and recyclable packaging.  Their tops and bottoms are on-trend and suit all figures so make a great gift for the sporty person in your life.

 

BECO Soaps, from £2.50

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Made in Britain, BECO soap bars, shampoo bars, and soap bottles are 97% organic and 100% eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty-free and hypoallergenic. One of the best things about BECO is that 80% of their staff are disabled when over a million disabled people are out of work, and the brand is encouraging other businesses to do the same. BECO’s products make a great stocking filler and are available in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, and Boots.

 

KeepCup, from £10

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KeepCups have been around for a decade, and are probably one of the most popular ecofriendly brands about. That being said, they are a fantastic brand who are still working incredibly hard to spread change by providing products to cafes going plastic-free, or larger scale companies hoping to reduce wastage. I prefer the glass cups, but they have a huge range of products in a variety of colours – you can even customise a cup with someone’s favourite colours.

 

Face Halo Makeup Remover, from £7

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I got a pack of Face Halo pads for Christmas last year, and I haven’t had to use a cotton pad since. If you know anyone who wears makeup (and I’m certain you do), then this is an easy win. Available online or from stores like Boots, these reusable makeup remover pads are washable; not just a rinse under the tap after use, but can actually be put in the wash. They can be washed up to 200 times and should replace the use of 500 traditional wipes – they can even be recycled when you’re done with it!

 

Zao Makeup, from £9

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Zao Makeup’s range of bamboo and refillable makeup products are quickly making a name for themselves for ridding their products of toxic ingredients and for being cruelty-free and vegan. It is unusual to find not only a bamboo makeup collection but also a refillable one. Zao stock everything you could want, from lipsticks and nail polish to foundation and blusher. They really have everything and are available on sites like Plastic Freedom, Beautifully Organic and Ecco Verde.

 

Smidge Bottle, from £10.99

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Similar to the KeepCup, reusable metal bottles like the ones made by Smidge are slowly taking over. I’ve definitely been guilty of buying multiple plastic bottles of water in a week, and when colourful bottles like this exist, there’s not really an excuse. Another great thing about Smidge bottles is that they keep your water cold all day, so they’re perfect for taking to work or school. Smidge also sell reusable camping and picnic gear if there’s an outdoorsy person in your life!

 

Critically Endangered Socks Amur Leopard Sock, £12

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Made from a blend of sustainable cotton and bamboo, there are currently 5 different pairs of animal socks available from Critically Endangered Socks; the Borneo orangutan, the Amur leopard, the Maui dolphin, the Sumatran elephant and the Hawksbill turtle. They produce a limited number of each style and donate 20% of the total sale price to a charity depending on the style you buy, so if you’re particularly passionate about the WildCats Conservation Alliance, you can purchase a pair of these leopard socks!

 

Wild Case Biodegradable Bamboo Phone Case, £11.20

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I didn’t know phone cases presented a problem with regards to waste and the climate until recently, and I definitely didn’t know biodegradable phone cases existed. My brother and sister-in-law were the ones who introduced me to them. They are a small market right now, and the leading brand seems to be Pela, who offer a massive range of nice colours but in the price range of £35-40. Wild Case offer just one colour and currently only fit iPhones but are available for a fraction of the price on Etsy.

 

Tabitha Eve Zero Waste Self Care Gift Set, £20

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Tabitha Eve creates plastic-free alternative products from ethically sourced fabrics. They promise good quality alternatives for your bathroom, kitchen, travel kit, and even for new parents. They offer three different zero waste gift sets, all at £20. The Self-Care set pictured above features 5 make up rounds, 5 nail varnish remover pads, 5 Loofah facial discs, and a Cotton & Linen Bath Pouf. All their gift sets also come with a free £5 voucher and are gift wrapped in a reusable 100% cotton furoshiki wrap.

 

Koi Footwear Vegan Shoes, from £20

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Koi Footwear‘s tagline is ‘100% Vegan Footwear’ and that’s really all you need to know. They make sandals, shoes, heels and boots that are completely vegan and PETA approved. Not only are they a brand who are trying to become more sustainable where they can but they have a huge selection of on-trend shoes that even go up to a women’s size 10 and 11. On top of all that, they have ASDA donation points around the country for you to recycle your old shoes.

 

Keep Leaf Reusable Sandwich Bag, £6

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These adorable little pouches from KeepLeaf are available on Not On The High Street and The Kind Store in the UK and are made of 100% cotton with a water-resistant polyester lining and velcro closure. Not only do they reduce single-use plastic wastage, but they are made through a women’s co-operative in India, giving them the opportunity to work and earn. The pouches are great for those packing lunches ahead of work or school, and can be washed under the tap, in the dishwasher or in a washing machine!

 

Thanks so much for reading this special gift guide on Anthem. I hope you’ve been able to tick some things off your list, or maybe add some to your own wish list.

Wishing you all a happy holidays from Anthem!

 

Words by Briony Brake for Anthem Online.
Images from BATOKO, TALA, BECO, KeepCup, Face Halo, Zao Makeup, Smidge, Critically Endangered Socks, Wild Case, Tabitha Eve, Koi Footwear and Keep Leaf/Not ON The High Street.

A Feminist Gift Guide For 2019

The Anthem Feminist Gift Guide is back! Not only that but this year there will be two gift guides. The second one, coming later this month, will be focused on eco-friendly and sustainable gifts!

Back to this gift guide, I’ve rounded up some items to gift your feminist friends. From female artists’ creations to underwear (yes, really). Enjoy!

100% Natural Shea Butter, £15

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The Body Shop‘s sustainably sourced Community Trade Shea Butter stripped back to it’s purest form and handcrafted by Ghanaian women, paying them not just a fair wage but a premium to help fund community projects such as local education and better healthcare. Additionally, this Christmas, The Body Shop will be donating a portion of all proceeds to their Dream Big campaign with Plan International, giving education to girls in Brazil and Indonesia.

 

Women Of The Zodiac 2020 Calendar, £19.20

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Illustrator Harri Golightly organised 11 other female illustrators to create a ‘women of the zodiac’ 2020 calendar in A3 size. Each artist has provided a design for each month giving 12 different beautiful styles to the calendar. A minimum of £10 per calendar will be donated to Women’s Aid, a great national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children.

 

‘Knockers’ Sweatshirt, £38

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A few years back, Lauren Mahon started using #GIRLvsCANCER to share her experience of breast cancer on social media. Lauren then began designing and distributing so-called Tit-Tees to help raise awareness and to donate 25% of GIRLvsCANCER sales to charities CoppaFeel!, Trekstock, Future Dreams and Look Good Feel Better. So these jumpers and tees look great, are fun, and really help not just one but four great charities.

 

‘Be The Change’ by Gina Martin, £12.99

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You might know of Gina Martin already for changing the law and making upskirting a criminal offence earlier in the year. Now, in her first book, described as an “essential handbook for the modern activist”, she aims to provide us all with the tools and courage to follow in her footsteps. What’s that you say? The perfect gift for everyone you know? We thought so. It’s available on Waterstones and Amazon and in lots of very good bookshops.

 

‘The Devil Doesn’t Need An Advocate’ White Unisex T-shirt, £20

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The Pink Protest, set up by Scarlett Curtis, Grace Campbell, Honey Ross and Alice Skinner, is a community of activists committed to engaging in action and supporting each other. They’ve recently opened up their online shop with tees and accessories like this great unisex t-shirt. If it’s not enough that all money will go back into their campaigns, these t-shirts are also organic and PETA approved vegan.

 

‘Fleabag: The Scriptures’ by Phoebe Waller-Bridge

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If you know someone who can’t get enough of BBC hit series Fleabag, then this is the gift for them. Fleabag: The Scriptures from Phoebe Waller-Bridge promises everything you could possibly want; “Every Word. Every Side-eye. Every Fox.”. It features new writing, the filming scripts and more. It’s also pretty hard to deny how pretty this book is. Just look at it.

 

‘Women Don’t Owe You Pretty’ Tote Bag, £20

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Florence Given is a London based artist and writer, and she’s not here to waste time. Her artworks often feature pretty badass slogans such as ‘Stop raising him, he’s not your son’ and ‘I am the love of my own life’. The least you could do is follow her on Instagram, and the most you could do is purchase someone you love one of these bold yet practical tote bags.

 

Virgina Woolf Gift Set, £30

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I may already own two t-shirts, a jumper and some pin badges from Literary Emporium but that’s beside the point. This online shop prides themselves on being the place to purchase gifts for book lovers, and female authors and characters have a really strong presence. They’ve recently started stocking gift sets like this one featuring books, clothing and accessories. If for some reason Woolf isn’t your bag, they also have Sylvia Plath, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, Little Women and more.

 

Slim Pink Elizabeth Stanton Notebook, £7

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In my humble opinion, a notebook is always a good gift. Especially if you buy it for yourself. Paperchase are always a great spot for finding fun or bold notebooks in different shapes and sizes. This slim pink Elizabeth Stanton quote notebook reads “The best protection any woman can have is courage” in gold, and who doesn’t want to be reminded that on a daily basis?

 

Star Scatter Bralet & Brazillian, £15

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Granted, you might need a closer relationship with the person you’re gifting this nice lingerie to, but let me explain why these aren’t just any old pants and bras. Breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel! teamed up with Boohoo to create a range of potentially life-saving bras, including this starry set. Each set has a pattern for the wearer to follow in order to check their breasts. Personally, this blew my mind. You can find this set, and two others, here.

 

Saint Dolly Prayer Candle, £18

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Dolly Parton is one of my favourite people so excuse me for including this candle over the Beyonce candle. I can like both. Ain’t Saint offers a range of products allowing you to “praise your idols”, whether they’re Jonathan Van Ness or Leonardo Dicaprio. From Dolly and Beyonce to Adele and Britney, this site has you covered for something a little more unusual to celebrate some iconic women.

 

‘Destroy The Patriarchy’ Sloth Mug, £6.99

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Finally, I thought I’d end on something a little fun, and very cute. This mug is so cute and colourful, you might have missed the ‘Destroy The Patriarchy‘ message over the pastel rainbow. I feel like I don’t have to justify this item too much as I can think of at least ten people I would give this to for Christmas. Who doesn’t need a mug? Who doesn’t like sloths? Or pastel colours? Who doesn’t hate the patriarchy? Fools, that’s who.

 

There you have it, this year’s feminist gift guide from Anthem! Hopefully, you’ve seen something you’d like to get for a loved one or maybe even for yourself.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our eco gift guide special and we’ll see you again next year!

 

Words by Briony Brake for Anthem Online.
Images from The Body Shop, Harri Golightly, GIRLvsCANCER, Etsy, Amazon, Waterstones, Gina Martin, The Pink Protest, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Florence Given, The Literary Emporium, Boohoo, CoppaFeel!, Ain’t Saint and DandySloth. 

Wellbeing and Winter

For a lot of us, it can be difficult to feel on top form during the colder months. Even if you are a winter fanatic, love all things Christmassy and get excited about what comes with the new year, it can still be difficult to manage wellness on cold and gloomy days. So, in anticipation of the winter blues/January blues/Monday blues/basically any unwanted blueness, I’ve worked up a checklist of things to help prioritise our wellbeing this winter.*

((*Note: This article isn’t medical advice. If you’re looking for more specific mental health material – check out the links at the end!))

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Diet and Nutrients

No, I’m not going to tell you to chuck out all the Christmas choccies! This isn’t about having an immaculate diet; what I suggest here is just keeping a mental note of when you last said ‘Hi’ to some fruit and veg. As we head into December and beyond, it can be tricky to keep on top of doing a healthy food shop – especially when there are so many tempting treats. Indulgence is fun, especially in the festive period, but do make sure to balance it out.

Our digestive system and brain are linked by the vagus nerve, and long story short (and all science averted because I don’t really get it), what we eat contributes to how we think and feel. As good old Saint Nick gets ready to do the rounds, by all means, head to the Quality Street! The praline triangles aren’t going to steal themselves. But remember to get in those greens and some vitamin C too. Similarly, because we lack so much sunlight during this time of year, if you’re someone who gets particularly down in the darker months, it could be worth picking up some vitamin D as well!

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Exercise

NO GYM REQUIRED. Fear not- this isn’t a you-must-start-a-spinning-class-and-go-to-boxercise-every-day article. Just get out and about. It doesn’t have to be a lot and it doesn’t have to be the same thing each time. In fact – the more variety the better. If you’re someone who likes exercise or sport then fab! Doing what you enjoy is a great way to get out of the house. It can be gross to go into *nature* when it’s cold and wet and windy, but when the weather is relatively calm, jump at the chance to go out and explore. Anything from a quick stroll to a little micro adventure to a local park.

Remember the Vitamin D we talked about earlier – making the most of the daylight hours is key when it is of limited availability. If you have a hobby that you can adapt to doing outside then use it as an excuse for a change of scenery. For example, photography or other artistic pursuits are a great way to explore outside and get some exercise in at the same time.

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The Power of Plants

There’s a lot of research to show that plants can have a positive effect on us. Having some greenery or flowers around the place can be a mood booster. Equally, having to care for a plant reminds us to care for ourselves. When we’re watering or feeding the plants, and making sure they get enough sunlight, it’s a casual reminder to make sure we pay attention to our own needs. Caring for something else and having that small responsibility with plants can also make us feel good and remind us that we are accomplishing things even if they’re small. (Also, they look really cute!!) 

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Another thing about FOOD

If you’re someone (like me) who finds it a drag to prepare food when your wellbeing isn’t amazing, here are some ideas. Find foods that minimise prep time and are good for you. For instance, yoghurts require zero effort and can be eaten whenever. Also, consider fresh veg and fruit that is in season and doesn’t need a lot of intervention. (And when you do feel like making stuff, stews are great, because they use all the in-season veg, you just leave the pot to do its thing, and you can freeze portions for ages.) Lastly, meal replacement powders (not weight-loss ones – just complete nutrient ones) could also be a solution for some people – I find them handy when my work schedule is a bit crazy or if I don’t have the energy for a big food shop.

In the new year, when everyone’s insisting they’ll start going to the gym, hating going back to work, and remembering how cold February is, this can all be handy to remember. Having quick fix food around that is not just junk food makes it much easier to look after yourself.

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Reach out!

We shouldn’t leave it until we’re actually feeling unwell or not taking care of ourselves to reach out to others. Make sure you check in with your loved ones over the winter period. This can be especially important if you live away from the rest of your family or are a university student away for the holidays. Reach out to close friends and make an effort to get together, or at least call for a catch-up.

Socialising can be difficult to organise over the Christmas period when people can be quite busy and public transport ceases to function, but come the new year when everyone’s aligning themselves with the ‘normal,’ it’s really important to make sure you’re maintaining those connections with people.

Depending on individual needs, doing what you love either solo or sharing it with friends can give you some well-needed space to relax – which does wonders for wellbeing.

Remember not to put your wellbeing on hold just because normality gets a bit suspended during Christmas and New Year, and opportunities to get out and about can seem to dwindle during winter as a whole. When considering your self-care regime, factor both your physical and mental wellness into it!

 

I hope this gets the ball rolling with some ideas you can utilise for maintaining wellbeing this winter. Below are some further sources of wellbeing advice, and also more distinct mental health resources:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/wellbeing/#.W_24Yq2cbPA
https://www.wellbeingnands.co.uk
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/what-wellbeing-how-can-we-measure-it-and-how-can-we-support-people-improve-it
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/things-to-do-this-weekend-to-boost-your-mental-wellbeing_uk_5bd2d714e4b0a8f17ef6413f?utm_hp_ref=uk-wellbeing
 

Words by Lauren Barnard for Anthem Online.
Images from Be Brain Fit, Mental Health Zen, Garden Collage, The Best Brain Possible and Practice Business.

Winter is Coming – Finally!

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The time has come, the nights are getting longer, the days colder and the spiced lattes are out in force…and I’m loving it!

I have always loved autumn and winter, it’s the time of year I’m always excited for; the crisp frosty mornings, seeing your breath as it hits the air and not sweating from blinking are particular highlights. However, not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am about freezing their butt off for months on end, so here are a few ways in which you can try and make the autumn and winter months that bit more joyful and enjoyable and I’m hoping that I can convert at least one person.

1. COSY JUMPERS AND GIANT COATS

This is potentially my favourite part, as people who know me will know I have a minor obsession with both of these. The more jumpers and coats I get to wear the better in my opinion. So instead of being a classic Brit and whining about the cold, seize the chance to be a real-life Yeti and embrace the jumpers…and hats…and gloves…and scarves, basically anything warm and fluffy.

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2. NIGHTS IN

Lots of people say that they find it more difficult to socialise in winter/autumn because people don’t want to go out. So you could switch it up and have a night in instead. Organise a movie night with lots of snacks, or have a games evening – as long as you’re prepared to lose friends over Monopoly or a finger over Irish snap!

3. FOOD!

There are some great foods that come out at this time of year. Lots of amazing veggies come into season, the roast dinners are in full force and it’s the perfect time to bake some sweet treats and eat all the cheese and all the pies (you see why we need such big jumpers).

4. TEAS

Obviously, you can drink tea at any time of year, this is Britain after all. However, I feel like, at least for me, teas really come into their own at this time of year. Aside from the traditional builder’s tea, I love a mint tea or anything with ginger in – it really helps to add to that cosy feeling and is super warming inside.

5. SPORT

I love a winter sport (I play hockey), as it’s a great way to get out of the house, make friends and keep warm – you may get soaked through by the rain occasionally but you’ll have fun doing it, so it’s worth the hypothermia right?! Also if you’re lucky and pick the right sport you may well get free food at the end of it. If an outdoor sport in the middle of winter doesn’t float your boat then there are plenty of indoor sports you can try out either with friends or a club, such as badminton, table tennis, squash, basketball or an exercise class. What’s more is that sport is perfect for battling the winter blues, not only can it be social but also the endorphins released can help boost your mood.

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6. ENJOY THE OUTDOORS

Autumn (in my humble opinion) is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The colours are changing, there’s that crisp fresh smell in the air (unless you live where I do – surrounded by fields – then it’s mostly just manure), and if you’re into photography then autumn and winter offer up some great shots – even grey skies can have their charm.

7. CULTURE

If you’re looking to do something at a weekend, other than lay around wrapped in a blanket, then it’s always worth being a tourist in your hometown and visit some museums and galleries. Yes, you can do this at any time of year but the advantage at this time is that the summer crowds will be long gone – making for a more relaxed visit. Alternatively, if you’re not still full from all the pies and cakes you’ve already eaten you could check out that restaurant or cafe you’ve been meaning to for ages. Not only does this make you get out of the house and experience something new, or learn something new but you also get to be warm and toasty whilst you explore.

8. TREAT YO’SELF

When it’s really grim outside (or you’re just feeling extra cosy), bundle yourself onto the sofa with a mountain of blankets, pillows and the odd duvet. Stock up on snacks and tea galore and relax into your marshmallowy pit with a stack of DVDs or a Netflix binge and maybe a face pack if you’re feeling lavish. This is made all the better when you think about all the poor sods who are outside braving the rain.

9. BOOKS

Now, I couldn’t write this whole post without mentioning books in some way. This time of year is great for reading books, the long cosy nights in front of the fire, or the long trips you might be taking to visit friends or family (please don’t read and drive). If you’ve had a long list of books to read or you had ‘read more’ as one of your resolutions but you haven’t made too much of a dent yet then why not set yourself a challenge; write a list of books that you want to read by Christmas, or New Year (realistically) and take advantage of the opportunities to snuggle down. Or, whilst you’re cocooned in your duvet on the sofa – or in your bed- take out an old favourite and travel back to Hogwarts or Hobbiton.

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10. ENJOY THE FESTIVITIES

Autumn and Winter are full of some of the most festive times of year (Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas). Even if you’re not a big fan of some (or all) of these, you can still embrace the spirit in some way or another. I love Christmas (possibly to excess), and I love a good bonfire, but I’ve never really got Halloween. In the past, I have tried to actively avoid it and I’ve also tried to force myself into it – neither of which I have truly felt comfortable with, so now I’ve found my happy medium. I get a good pumpkin to carve (which is a great work out if you’re struggling to think of a sport you might like to do), I get a good selection of sweets and instead of dressing up in costume I dress up in my pyjamas and watch a Halloween-y film with pizza – always with pizza.

A FEW FILM SUGGESTIONS:

  • Beetlejuice
  • Nightmare Before Christmas (this is a perfect transitional film between Halloween and Christmas)
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Labyrinth (Bowie, not Pan’s)
  • Coraline

 

Words and images by Eleanor Manley for Anthem Online.

The Girl Power Gift Guide 2017

It’s time for another Christmas gift guide! I’m over the moon to continue the new tradition of Anthem Christmas gift guides for you and all your feminist pals. This year, I’ve been fed dozens of ideas from my friends and the fabulous women of the BOSSY forum, so a huge thank you to everyone who’s contributed, and don’t forget to support your local girl gang/business!

  1. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls‘ book by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo
    £17.99 hardback from Waterstones
    Find it here.9780141986005
  2. A Queernormative Body Positive Card or Print by Somebodies Art
    £3-15 from Etsy
    Find them here.il_570xn-1426323355_n31w
  3. Upcycled Ethical Woven Palm Leaf ‘Oluka’ Earbobs 
    £12 from AFRORETRO
    Find them here.OlunkaEarbobYellowWEB
  4. Totes for Women canvas bag 
    £9.50 from Amnesty
    Find it here.otforw-totes-for-women-bag_3
  5. Women & Power: A Manifesto‘ book by Mary Beard
    £7.99 from Waterstones
    Find it here9781788160605
  6. Wonder Woman‘ DVD or Blu-ray
    £9.99-£11.70 from Amazon
    Find both here.911yvjcax0l-_sy445_
  7. Sisterhood enamel pin by Glitter Punk Jewellery
    £7.50 from Etsy
    Find it here.il_570xn-1328013833_bnjb
  8. Carrie Fisher t-shirt by Girls On Tops
    £20
    fom Etsy
    Find it here.il_570xn-1367589018_jx1d
  9. 20th Century Women on DVD
    £5.32 on Amazon
    Find it here.71zc7gsqvdl-_sy445_
  10. Feminist Accessory Bag by Chibi Chi Designs
    £13-£14 on Etsy
    Find it here.il_570xn-1237259020_kjqw

 

There you have it! Ten items that will hopefully make the feminist in your life happy this Christmas. There’s so many books and films and even items of clothing this year that I know would at least make my heart happy so get searching and browsing and see what you can find! We’ll be sharing a lot of these on our Instagram too as well as some items not featured on this list so make sure to follow us @fem_anthem.

Last of all, Merry Christmas from Anthem!

 

Words by Briony Brake
Images by Waterstones, Somebodies Art, Etsy, AFRORETRO, Amazon, Amnesty, Glitter Punk Jewellery, Girls On Tops, and Chibi Chi Designs.

Unconventional Christmas

I’ve had Twitter since I was 15. It’s my constant companion; the voices of these journalists and comedians that I have followed in many ways for seven years now. I check it when I wake up and I check it when I go to bed. A good tweet is like a good joke – satisfying.

My favourite time on Twitter is Christmas Day, when the connection it gives you to other people makes the day feel bigger than whatever is going on in your own Christmas. In recent years, Sarah Millican has started the hashtag #joinin, so that people can follow this directly and share what they’re doing, as a way to reach out to people who might be having lonely or difficult Christmases. I get to see commentary on Christmas TV, quotes from racist grandparents, and see everyone share their best and worst gifts. The tweet I look out for especially though, is comedian Robert Webb who reminds us that Christmas without a parent or both parents can be tough, shitty and sad, and what’s more, that that’s okay.

Christmas is a particularly tough day if you’ve lost a parent, or don’t have a strong family unit. It can be hard to admit you’re not enjoying yourself on a day with so much pressure on it, when everyone else seems to be having a jolly old family time. The traditions you grew up with change, as they inevitably do with age, but they change because of absence – because no matter how hard you try, on that day it will always feel a bit like something’s missing.

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I miss Christmas with my dad. I don’t have anyone to watch It’s A Wonderful Life with anymore. The responsibility of being the person who’s too drunk by lunch has fallen to me. I once told my dad that I hated Wilkinson’s because he dragged me there every Saturday, so one year he bought things he knew I’d like from there and left the labels on so I knew I was wrong (I was wrong Wilkinson’s is the best shop ever). Fairytale of New York is my mum and dad’s Christmas song. There’s no one to argue with over the 80’s pop Christmas CD (my choice) and the Rat Pack one (Dad’s). We don’t drive to see grandparents in his car, with it’s very specific smell. There was always a moment on Christmas morning where we had to say ‘Dad – please stop checking your emails and come and watch us open stockings for god’s sake you grumpy bastard.’ We’d hand him what he always got – a) a DVD, b) a book, or c) a box of Sports Mix and he’d say ‘A football!’

So for those who find the festive season a bit tough, like me, I’d like to offer some advice, that I’m trying very hard not to make condescending. Instead, you must make your own traditions. Build your own family. Appreciate the new.

My favourite part of Christmas is the flat meal; an important trip to Lewisham Shopping Centre, lucky dip with Poundland gifts, Secret Santa, Frankie’s honey parsnips, the glee with which Rob rearranges the living room, Steve’s Christmas jumpers, and more roast potatoes than anyone can conceivably eat. On Christmas day the group chats light up with everyone’s best presents, wishes we were all together, and tales of whose nan is pissed. We compare potatoes.

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We have a ridiculous new year’s eve party and watch the fireworks from Best Hill in London, Telegraph Hill with the entirety of SE4 (you can take your Primrose Hill and shove it). We spend new year’s day mopping the floor and feeling sorry for ourselves, regretting our dancing and then decamp to the seaside the day after to clear out the cobwebs.

I’ve taken on new present buying responsibilities – I buy my cousin a different sit-com box set every year so I can educate him on these things the way my dad educated me. I am the best at making presents for my sister. Together, we watch all the Christmas TV, and drink wine, and miss our dad. Last year she gave me a framed letter that he’d written me. We always cry.

And it’s okay to miss him on Christmas Day because, to be honest, it’s a bit shit that he’s not here. He was a grumpy old bastard, but that’s what you need at Christmas more than ever. Someone to point out that the whole thing is bloody ridiculous.

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To me, grief is like a bruise that never goes away. At first, it’s the stabbing pain, it’s the injury, and the shock. Slowly that bruise changes colour, and maybe it gets a bit smaller, but I don’t think it ever goes away. And sometimes, you need to poke it. To check it still hurts. To feel that pain again, because when you feel it, you remember the injury, and you remember why it hurts. And it’s the remembering that’s so important.

For more on this see the amazing tweet from Rachael Prior about her dad and M&S Jumpers that recently went viral. The replies are full of people sharing how their Christmases aren’t the same now that they’ve lost someone, but there’s a bittersweet quality to it all.

 

Words by Sian Brett
Tweet from Rachael Prior, ‘@ORachaelO’

Stop WINE-ing About Women Drinking

 I am fully and wholly aware that alcohol is bad for you. It’s bad for your physical and mental health. It is a drug.

But my god it’s fun, isn’t it? When you’ve had a few, and you dance your way back from the pub, eating some chips that taste like the best chips ever… and it is my god damn right to do that.

In the wake of New Years and Christmas festivities there have been a spate of ‘oh no binge drinking women how awful’ articles in the typically awful right-wing press. The narratives of these stories are often about how terrible it is for us young girls to go out in short skirts, or heels, and to get merry. They depict us as ‘messes’, as out of control, or loose.

If you’re decrying young women going out and acting disgracefully on nights out, you should probably stop putting photos of it in national newspapers.

I am sure that some of this notion of women going and getting drunk being a terrible thing stems from the fact that many of these women probably end up having one night stands, and that many people still have a problem with women being in charge of their own sexuality and sexual freedoms.

I wonder if there’s a rise in young women drinking because the pressure on us to be everything is so intense that we need something after a long day of the patriarchy to take the edge off.

Or if it’s because we are made to feel so constantly self-conscious and aware of our looks -as that is taught to be the only thing that defines us – that having a drink is sometimes the quickest way to feel good about ourselves.

In her article ‘Pictures Of Today’s Young Women That Make Me Weep’ (I’m not going to link you to it or even suggest that you look it up because any more hits on their website is exactly what The Mail wants, and I’m loathed to ever give them what they want, the absolute fucks), Sarah Vine writes “[e]ven more depressing, however, is the fact that these are not the usual suspects – thuggish male louts or football hooligans – we see brawling and barfing their way to destruction; but young women”.

OKAY. LET’S DELVE IN. Vine seems to be suggesting here that if it were ‘the usual suspsects’ that would somehow be okay, and that the fact that it’s not makes it worse. She even calls it ‘depressing’.  

I wonder why, Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove, young women would feel the need to go out and get rat-arsed these days. No idea? Me neither, Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove.

I’m not okaying binge drinking. It’s silly, and foolish, and is a strain on public services. People put themselves in dangerous positions and many die or are hurt. I’m just saying that being a woman doing it is not any worse than being a man doing it.

Also, being drunk is a right laugh. There is something intensely powerful about a group of girls on a night out. It is one of my favourite places to be. When you give up with glasses and swig from the bottle, and do each other’s eyeliner and cackle. When you hold back your mate’s hair as they’re sick in a bin. My two best friends from school and me would take it in turns to be the most drunk on a night out so no one was always the one doing the looking after. That’s not being a ‘mess’ that’s being considerate. Rae Earl put it best on Twitter when she said this:

Vine’s article also says this: “These girls have grown up in a post-feminist society that tells them anything a man can do, they can do better. And that includes getting monumentally, catastrophically bladdered.”

You know what?

Yeah. It does. Today’s young women can do whatever they bloody like. Have a drink mate. Mine’s a pint.

Words by Sian Brett (@sian_brett)
Tweet by Rae Earl (@RaeEarl)