Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain

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Please stop selling me body confidence

To all companies and media outlets trying to sell me a beauty product,

I am in my twenties and have been told my various outlets that I must be skinny to be beautiful, have sexy curves, and be confident in the body I have – even though on the next page of your magazine or in another advertisement, you tell me I don’t have the right body.

You are trying to tell me that I am not good enough. That I should be skinny because it photographs well or because it looks good. You try to tell me you care when all you are doing is selling a product.

Please stop trying to sell me body confidence. It would be a far better marketing concept if you were honest. I know this is hard because you are selling the exact same product as your competitors but it would be better than lying that you care. It doesn’t make sense to tell me that I should be happy in my body and then tell me to buy your product so that I can do that. It also doesn’t make sense that you would pay thousands of pounds to have your advertisement selling “body confidence” (though you only show a certain kind of type and look in your adverts) in a magazine that tells us how to lose weight, dress so that we are sexy and look skinny and remind us exactly what is wrong with the way we look.

It seems pretty hypocritical to me that you tell me I should love my skin and then only show models that are typically beautiful in some way, be it in the face, body or both. They fit into all the moulds that you apparently dismiss.

I am just like everyone else and you try to break me with unrealistic or hypocritical and apparently inspiring body messages and then build me back up so I will buy your mediocre product and conform to whatever shape I have to be, to be someone who buys your product.

If you want me to buy from you, then just use all those wonderfully crazy science words and tell me what the product does. Just please stop selling me body confidence when you are part of the industry, and usually part of the same brand, who are telling me that I should be ashamed of it because there is just so much to improve.

Stop treating me like an idiot. Though you may only see me as a body – as a physical entity and nothing more. I have a brain – thoughts, ambitions and opinions. I am not defined by my body but by my actions, like choosing not to buy your product. So please stop selling me body confidence. It isn’t fooling anyone.

From a lost customer.


No more More!

So More! magazine is set to release its last issue tomorrow. It’s always sad to see a publication close and journalists be out of a job for at least a little while but I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of More!

I understood what it was trying to be: sexy, fun and an easy read but it was also judging, critical and sometimes a little degrading. Obviously I have no doubt that the writers, editors and the whole team behind the magazine worked incredibly hard to reach their deadlines and write what they thought their target market wanted but I think a key to their closure is that they weren’t really targeting their market, young females, very well at all.

I know it wasn’t a magazine that was trying to take itself too seriously, after all a common (and I’m told popular) feature of the magazine was its sex position of the fortnight which was kindly demonstrated by Barbie and Ken, but it’s superficiality spread to its thinking. Beauty, sex, how you look to others, celebrity’s bodies and how you can make your body look like a celebrity’s body were the main areas that More! seemed to venture to whenever I picked up the magazine.

It was a magazine you read as a teenager. Mainly to laugh at because you thought it was a little bit naughty and it felt like an adult’s magazine with teenage content. That was the selling point, at least when More! was more popular than it is now (duh, it wouldn’t be closing otherwise). But times have changed and though readers don’t want to consistently be given serious content to maul over and think about, a mixture of that and the lighthearted material seems a better choice for reading material if you’re to choose a magazine.

More! didn’t realise this and it didn’t adapt. It remained a teenager masking as an adult. Readers are more complex than that. Readers now have an overbearing amount of information at the click of a button and a magazine that only provides the easy stuff is never going to be able to survive. Especially when that magazine provides an unhealthy obsession with certain topics (including insulting celebrities that are too fat, thin, tall, short – whatever – you get the picture).

Readers now demand more from their publications because they can. They have options now and the internet can provide all of it. A paper-based publication can survive if it acknowledges this and adapts. Join its online content with its paper based one to provide one huge world for its reader so that the publication can continuously evolve with the reader. More! wasn’t able to provide more (awful pun completely intended) and because of that it has been forced to close down.

You cannot continue to provide the same sort of content that you have been doing for so long, no matter how well you do it and when all your material falls into the same spectrum and doesn’t reach further or try to, then it’s never going to be able to compete with the demanding readership of today.


Screw beauty

I am sick of people trying to impose ideals of beauty on people – both men and women. I am sick of adverts pretending to be about ‘real women’ only featuring white, young females that are skinny enough to have never eaten bread in their lives. I am sick of magazines screaming at me about a new celebrity having lost or gained weight. I am sick of being told that I beauty is the key to happiness. Screw these damn ideologies of beauty.

I am not bitter, quite the opposite, in fact – it saddens me that people put so much value in their beauty. It infuriates me that this society has made us judge our outer shells so harshly when it plays such little significance to the actual type of people we are.

Men’s beauty is not even discussed in mainstream media, men are either expected to be crazy toned with abs that you could use to grate cheese to go over your baked beans on toast or they are seen as fat, bald and hairy. And speaking of hair – when did that become something so gross? Why does every young human on this planet think it is a good idea to wax everything off? We are not dolls and we’re not made of plastic. The hair industry has grown in financial success every year for too many years. In America, laser hair removal alone is worth £244m. That’s a hell of a lot of money to ensure that you look ‘clean.’ Just wash yourself, it would be cheaper.

Saying that I do shave, mainly because I want to and also because I feel slightly obligated. Which is wrong but I can’t help it. But I do wonder who made up all these rules on the ideal beauty.

Who the hell decided that long hair on women is best? Who came up with the genius idea that women to be defined as sexy should have the waist they had when they were 9-years-old? Who thought that women needed to be so damn perfect?

Recently, and I use that word loosely, thin has been directly linked with beauty. As though if you pass a size 10 you are a) no longer a woman and b) no longer attractive which in turn creates c) you are no longer happy. Advertisements use the word health to disguise an unhealthy message that thin is best, and that you are never thin enough. This is unhealthy for so many reasons I could write another blog post entirely on that. This is why people aren’t happy, this is why insecurity is as common as blinking. We are constantly trying to achieve a beauty that we haven’t even given ourselves a chance to consider.

We accept this ideology of beauty straight away. Digest it happily and then beat ourselves up for not achieving what wonderful cameras, good editing and great photoshop skills can do. There’s a reason we cannot achieve that ideal and it’s because it doesn’t exist.

Physical beauty is only skin deep and although it’s important to feel beautiful, it is not the most important thing. It is not the only thing. You are more than beautiful. If that is all there is to you, then you’re selling yourself short. A person is loved and admired because of their actions, their words, their relationships, their personality. Everyone close to you is beautiful to you – that’s more than likely because of their personalities and your relationship with them (not calling your friends and family ugly but you get what I mean).

To tell someone they are beautiful is lovely, and I enjoy getting the compliment as much as the next person. But I would rather be known for my mind, my thoughts, my writing, my work and for how I treat the people I love than for the way my face and body conforms to that tiny cut-out woman shape that the beauty, cosmetic, entertainment and advertising industries persuade us to force ourselves through in order to make us happy.

Trying to conform is not happiness. People are consistently trying to fight stereotypes and being the same through their words and their actions but when it comes to looks everyone seems to want to fit the same template. That isn’t a beautiful way to live life. It’s a way to consistently feel disappointed for falling short of an impossibly high bar.

You are more than beautiful.

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A longer lifespan for newspapers

Everything is going online, yes we know, we’ve all read the articles and heard lots of people tell us. Paper is dead. People want things immediately and they want them in easy access. Yay for the internet and the kindle and the ability to access everything we will ever need from one small portable device. The gravestones have already been carved for books and newspapers. But it is way too early, in my opinion, to be deciding on what hymns to sing at the funeral.

Books and newspapers are in different classes obviously. A newspaper is a little like a coffee and a book is a lot like the mug it’s held in. A book is more of an investment than a newspaper which means their survival will be different. People are predicting that newspapers will be dead in five years and that people will access all their media online. This is selling newspapers short, trying to put my bias aside, people enjoy having something tangible to read especially when they are around computer screens all day.

Accessing newspapers online and on phones and tablets is easier and faster but sometimes people like to enjoy their news. They like the chance to properly see things designed on the page. The amount of people buying newspapers may be falling but that is because competition is tighter and that newspapers, right now, are not offering enough material to successfully compete with their online counterparts.

There is a lot more freedom with online media and for the people in the industry this is very exciting. A news article that can contain a video as well as links to other news articles within the publication, and other publications means that news can expand in a way that a paper-based publication can’t. However, this does not mean that a newspaper is dead. It just means it may not be the focus anymore but an extension.

Removing the newspaper entirely, especially if it is popular or the only one in a particular region, is missing a trick. It’s a little like removing the root of a tree just because it’s fully grown and producing fruit.

The newspaper will never be as popular as it was. As society evolves and taps its back for doing so, it believes that it doesn’t need things that were once important to an older time. This, however, doesn’t make the newspaper obsolete. There are still enough people buying and reading newspapers that advertisers will continue to be interested in newspapers. Although there is money, a lot of money, in online publications there are too many adverts and distractions online. A paper is far more targeted, people spend much more time reading a page than a website. It is a different frame of mind which means a more focused audience and thus a consistent ability for advertisers to target an audience and for newspapers to fund the publication for their readers.

Instead of removing newspapers completely, it should become an extension of the online resource, even if it is not the main focus. There is a lot of room for creativity in both the online and paper-based forms, it would make more sense to keep both types of media and target a larger audience. There are still people who do not have easy access to the internet. There are still people who prefer a newspaper to reading something on a mobile phone (even if it has been adapted to the screen).

Newspapers still have life in them and still have potential. If newspapers do die earlier than they should (especially within the pessimistic five year predictions that I have heard) then it is because those in the media, who have the power have chosen to embrace online with both hands and ignore the paper copy of a newspaper. It will be at the fault of editors and advertisers who assume that just because something has an upgrade, the original is no longer valid.


Ridiculous Gender Roles

The Great British Bake off has caused headlines today. Not because it’s a great show (I am known to like a good cooking show) but because the three finalists are male. How exciting right? Completely groundbreaking. Holy cow, men can bake.

How ridiculous that this would make news and reignite a debate on gender roles. It’s just baking and men, much like women, have arms a brain and the ability to turn on an oven. It is therefore fair to assume, that they have the capacity to bake. Why is this such a shock to the media and society as a whole?

Whoever can cook this for me: man, woman or bear, I will love forever. If the chocolate can be spread all over the cake then that’s even better.

I read a few articles about this astounding turn of events of having males instead of females in a bake off final and I’m still confused about what the big deal is. It seriously concerns me that this could still be news. The gender roles that many dubbed to be fading or non existent because women were becoming equals (a debate in itself), it seems never left.

It seems strange to me that these three men are deemed extraordinary enough to make news and restart an old debate. These men have made the news not because of being extremely talented or because they’ve achieved something incredible through their baking but because they are men and can make cakes.

These tired and dated gender roles existed in a society when women were expected to be seen and not heard. When women were dubbed ‘angels of the house’ and a man had to be strong, cold and powerful to be deemed a man. These gender stereotypes meant that people chose to conform rather than be ridiculed for not fitting into the ancient texts descriptions and ideals of a man and a woman.

We pride ourselves on being evolved and most humans on this planet think they are better and stronger than the other species on this planet. Yet if a final of a baking competition is all male then this seems worthy enough of news? What’s so special about it?

These gender roles may or may not be believed and adhered to by a large part of society but the newspapers shouldn’t deem it such a ‘crazy, new thing.’ People can do what they want regardless of their gender.

There is no secret to what makes a man and what makes a woman. Whatever is between your legs that determines whether you can tick the female or the male box on application and registration forms. It isn’t what job you have, or what you enjoy doing, or how you decorate your house, or what car you buy or what you wear. That makes a person. It shows you. It doesn’t determine if you’re a man or woman.

Once society works out this obviously very confusing society of vagina=woman, and penis=man; then gender roles can be thrown aside and laughed at for being so utterly stupid. Restricting ourselves because of our gender is just another barrier that has been put there by history, tradition and the inability to change.


Self Promotion

I have been running this blog for a little while, and before this one I had another which I decided to leave in bid of a fresh start. I don’t get as many viewers as I’d like but that’s entirely through my own fault. Self promotion is completely necessary if you’re going to be able to get the recognition you want, especially  in a medium such as the blogging world which is so vast I’m pretty sure it would take at least three human lives to at least look through half of them.

The topic of self promotion has been something the boy has been hassling me about for about the same amount of time as when he started reading my blog but I’ve always been reluctant. Then today, a short visit to Facebook during my lunch break from revising found me looking at a status of a friend who had started her own blog. Naturally I clicked the link she had posted and read her post. It was good and I realised I would never have bothered searching for a blog like that had I not seen her self promotion.

It’s a great tool to get the ball rolling when it comes to hits, but self promotion is a fantastic tool in everyday life – if used with balance and truth. Self promotion in interviews and job applications could see you cinching an important step up the career ladder (also known to students as the work experience ladder). As long as you’re not arrogant and there’s some truth in your claims of being absolutely fantastic (at least a little truth, which I’m sure there is) then self promotion is great, well founded and a brilliant tool to show that you’re confident and capable.

In the real world I don’t have a big problem with self promotion. I’ll do it when necessary and if it will benefit me and is necessary for e to do better than whatever it is I’m currently doing. However, self promotion in the blogging world seems to leave my palms sweaty and my heart beating that little bit faster.

Since I first began blogging a few years ago, I have never been able to promote myself or the things I am writing. I have no real idea why I can’t either. This is my way of putting a few thoughts into the blogging world and maybe, hopefully, getting a response. It’s almost cathartic in that I feel like I am still talking to someone and yet, for all I know, no one is reading it. But that’s okay, I started using wordpress more for myself than anyone else (although I do like checking those stats pages!) Yet getting even a few hits on my blog always gives me a buzz, I do want readers. If I didn’t, I’d write a diary not a blog.

Self promotion would be a sure fire way of ensuring that I would get at least a couple more hits and yet when it comes to typing browneyesandgreenbees.wordpress.com on my Facebook page and ‘writing check it out, tell me what you think!’ I just can’t. I freeze.

I don’t even think some of my closest friends know that I have a blog, or if they do, they wouldn’t know how to find it because they don’t know what it’s called. I’m pretty sure it’s an insecurity that I’ve suppressed and only resurfaces when I’m pressured by the boy into promoting myself (still haven’t cracked though…) The thing is, someone else promoting me is fine, I can handle that but doing it myself seems, I don’t know. I think my writing still needs a lot of work, my posts need to be tighter and more entertaining (be it in an intellectual, superficial or humorous way) and I just need to be better before I can take responsibility for unleashing my blog on the world through self promotion.

Until then I’ll be thankful for my handful of lovely followers and those that seem to check it everyday (including my sister). One day, after a few shots of tequila and a mouthful of cheesecake I will push that Post button on Facebook and I will self promote! I may have to give myself a deadline to really commit to this whole online self promotion thing though…

Funny considering one of my student jobs is media and marketing.

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I want to be a journalist and I know people say the media is evil and marketing is the problem to our problems. But you can’t deny they’re geniuses, or if you can then you have to also accept that the general public are idiots. I think this cartoon proves my point in a much better way than my still developing words can explain.

Image taken from http://www.weheartit.com