Taking your face off.

Women feel under pressure to wear make-up. At least that’s the story if you listen to Dove commercials and pretty much every TV show we see on Channel 4 in Britain that involves Gok Wan or that woman with the block fringe, Anna something-or-other. The media is constantly informing me that I feel threatened by celebrities who have make-up artists at their side every minute of the day ensuring they look every bit fresh as a daisy. Oh and Photoshop, the most evil weapon since the nuclear bomb, causing women everywhere to throw themselves out of the nearest window when even their HD Forever foundation doesn’t make their face as flawless as whoever is on the front of this month’s Cosmo.

Then the next step, due to this media circus criticizing famous women for looking too perfect and not being real role models for ordinary young girls another problem is caused. It’s not pressure to wear make-up but pressure not to wear make-up. Looking like we actually care about our appearance these days is a big no. Much better to roll out of bed leave your hair untouched, splash some water on your face, eat a bowl of Special K and go. Soon we’ll be yellowing our teeth to prove how un-vain we are, not washing and turning back into cave people. It’s inevitable!

We keep going around telling everyone that beauty isn’t important and then we tell our friends, mothers, children ‘oh you don’t need make-up, you look more beautiful without it.’ Who doesn’t see the glaring hypocrisy here? First of all beauty doesn’t matter and doesn’t define us and then second it’s very important not to wear make-up because it makes you look more beautiful. Did you hear anyone going round telling the pigeons that they’re not allowed to puff out their chests to attract the women pigeons because it might make the less colourful, less puffy pigeons jealous? This is ridiculous.

Your boyfriend might perhaps tell you that you look just as beautiful with nothing on (your face) but then you show up for your anniversary dinner at the best restaurant in town all puffy eyed from a long slog at work with a big spot on your chin and wind bedraggled hair and your partner looks around seemingly embarrassed to be in your presence. Well you know what, you can’t have it both ways! If women are pressurised to wear make-up because they understand that it will make them more attractive to men they are just as pressurised to look like a ‘natural beauty.’ Men who think women are beautiful without make-up are seen as godly creatures with not a shallow bone in their body, a Ghandi of women’s rights. However they are being the very definition of shallow, judging women on the way we look. A make-up wearing woman is no good for this man but a non-make-up wearing natural beauty is just fine.

Dear media, society, other women, men, children and aliens – stop having an opinion about other people’s faces. If we want to wear make-up we shall and if we don’t we shan’t. Not wearing make-up doesn’t have to be a statement it’s just a choice, just as wearing the choice between a black coat or a red coat, with spots on. Just in case you’re confused by my inane waffling, make-up or the lack of it, is really not the problem here. The problem here is the people who have an opinion about it when it’s really none of their business. Especially since the opinion seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron. So just shhhhh and look after your own face.

 

Thoughts?

(follow me on twitter and instagram @felitalyb)

Limbo like me!

When we were little we thought limbo was just a super fun game to play at our friends’ Hawaiian themed Birthday parties. Those who weren’t gymnastic genii would fear that pole, the slight wobble, the anticipation of the fall. Going out on the first try was something you wouldn’t live down (at least until the next party, for which you will have obviously been practising); flexibility was such an asset even to our 10 year old selves. However, just when we thought we’d conquered all things bendy, we find ourselves in a much more complicated, circus freak level of limbo: relationship limbo.

So, scenario, you’ve been friends for a decent amount of time, you get drunk one night and accidentally make out á la Nick and Jess from the incredibly hilarious and wunderbar New Girl (Fox), you realise it perhaps wasn’t just an inebriated mistake and then you get sort of stuck… You might go on a few dates (see season 2, episode 1: First Date – one of my personal faves), you might try to completely deny your new found, confusing feelings and ignore each other (season 2, episode 16: Table 34) or you might be incredibly sensible and sit down and actually talk to each other and decide what to do (as if). Taking either of the first two options, which let’s face it are far more likely than the third, you are going to be stuck in the dreaded relationship limbo. Are you still just friends? Is something going to happen? Is this just the result of spending too much time with said person or do you actually like them? Do you both feel the same way? Are you going to get the wrong idea if I invite you out to things, like I would have done before without thinking twice due to the friendship-ness, and think that I’m being incredibly clingy and annoying and over the top, thus ruining the initial friendship without any real foundation or reason?

The solution to relationship limbo is unfortunately talking (not going to happen) and time (takes ages). In the meantime, hide under your duvet and watch New Girl to see what Nick and Jess do. Then copy it because their lives seem totally awesome and pulled together…

 

Have you been in relationship limbo and collected some tips for the rest of us? Pray tell!

(follow me on twitter and instagram @felitalyb)

There’s a whole section called ‘eggs’!

I am of course talking about the brunch menu at Joe’s Kitchen in Borough and the exclamation my flatmate made when describing how great it is to me.

Naturally after this very promising introduction I was expecting big things. Especially in the eggs department. Luckily for my flatmate, Joe’s didn’t disappoint in this area.  You can have them boiled, fried, scrambled, poached, Benedict, omelette, sans yolk, sunny side up or down or even sideways probably but I didn’t ask. The rest of the menu is good to. It’s perfectly positioned to transition between breakfast and lunch with some post-noon choices on there too such as the lentil and spinach cottage pie and Joe’s homemade burger, not to mention the boozy milkshakes which seem like a great idea for people who aren’t nursing a hangover.

It took me a long time to decide but finally I went with the full works omelette, swapping out the toast for hash browns (I’m wheat intolerant, for which they were very accommodating). Friends had the classic eggs benedict, the veggie brekkie and one went for a special’s board option of ‘full English’ something the standard menu, I must say, is lacking. They all enjoyed their meals very much, they are regulars and profess their mutual love of Joe’s to anyone who will listen.

I can’t lie, it was good. The omelette was nice and they were great about my need to ditch the toast for a more gluten friendly ingredient. I have even suggested going there again next Saturday with some other friends too. However, it’s really not anything special. I know caffs where you get thrice as much food for half the price and you’ll probably get served quicker to boot. I was also a bit disappointed in truth by the milkshake, vanilla, which was fine but it could have been thicker and there could have been a better selection of flavours – I mean they didn’t even have bog standard strawberry. Awkward. The slightly more interesting smoothie options almost make up for what is lacking in the milkshake department, but if you don’t want a smoothie this isn’t of much help.

Don’t get me wrong though, overall Joe’s is above average for a brunch choice. It’s reasonably priced though not cheap, has a great selection of eggs, caters well to needs of vegetarians and intolerant people (pun intended) and has a pretty cute farmhouse kitchen kind of vibe. What I really liked about the decor were the wooden chairs which it seems previously were occupied as church pews. It has a friendly character and the staff are smart and polite, if a little slow and forgetful but it’s fine because it’s Sunday morning and there’s no need to be rushing absolutely anywhere.

All in all I’ll give Joe’s 3/5 stars *** – above average, not spectacular.

 

(follow me on twitter and instagram @felitalyb)

Caution: A British person talking about the weather.

There’s nothing better than London in the sunshine. I have often wondered, children and school holidays aside, why people go abroad in August when Britain is doing its damned best to forego those traditional rain clouds in favour of sublime warmth under splendorous rays. Sure you might have to cope with the odd half naked man (a creature that comes out only when the temperature ranges above 20 degrees) and the atrocities of badly manicured toenails in last year’s flip flops pacing hurriedly up and down Oxford Street but, despite these minor altercations, when summer comes to London there is really no reason so up sticks and go to the Costa del Sol.

For one thing the weather can be even better than Spain*. For another, our great capital city boasts a myriad of things to do and see in the summer season.

The 4th of August 2014 marked the centenary of the First World War and London stepped up graciously in remembrance of those who died. On Saturday I went to see the memorial at the Tower of London where 888,246 beautifully crafted ceramic poppies are in the process of being planted, to represent each of the soldiers killed in the war who served for the British Empire. The memorial is to be completed by November 11th by which time the red sea will totally envelope the grounds of the Tower of London, leaving not a patch of green grass visible.

The atmosphere, whilst buzzing with tourists, foreign and British alike, was one of sobriety. The memorial was powerful. Particularly symbolic were the poppies attached to the walls, cascading from the ramparts as if a waterfall of blood. People were clambering to the front of the gates to get the best view, to take their photo and move along. But many were struck by the display, the gravity of its significance weighing on their heart, and so spent a longer while contemplating this art of great beauty inspired by unfathomable suffering; in the trenches, on the battlefield, the war to end all wars.

Later in the evening as the sun went down, London’s other notable mark of remembrance was revealed. A beam of blue light, called Spectra, illuminated the London skyline, visible all over the city contrasting the statement made at the outbreak of WWI by Lord Edward Grey, ”The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.” The light is a beacon of hope, a symbol which shows that the Great War was not the end. The world lived and still lives to fight another day. The war may not have ended all wars as it should have and many conflicts continue to wrack our planet but hopefully these memorials along with others across the nation will go some way in helping to spread peace.

 

 

*probably.

(follow me on twitter and instagram @felitalyb)

Sticks and stones may break my bones…

(Disclaimer: this post is not meant to be racist, sexist, feminist, anarchist, socialist or indeed any other type of ‘ist’. It merely attempts to underline a point of etymological interest)

While out to dinner the other day with two friends, one English, one Italian, at the wonderful restaurant ‘Anema e Cozze‘ on Naples’ lungomare, an interesting linguistic question popped up. My Italian friend asked me, in the most innocent way seemingly possible, (and in Italian of course but I shall translate for ease of reading) “Um, I was just wondering something… What does ni**a (deriv. ni**ermean? Does it mean slut or whore or something like that?” To this my English friend and I fell into a rather nervous, embarrassed laughter and informed him that he shouldn’t really say that, out loud, in public. It turns out he’d been translating Kanye West and Jay Z‘s aptly named song ‘Ni**as in Paris‘ into Italian, in attempt to learn some English. Now, the merits of using such a song to learn English is a topic to be discussed another day but the principle of this query got me thinking for long after the conversation was over. How do words evolve into insults?

Us two Brits began to explain that the term ni**a is used to refer to someone of African American descent and that it is racist coming from someone who is not themselves of African American descent. This was confusing for our Italian companion as the Italian translation doesn’t have any direct racist connotations (a good thing I believe) and does not change significance coming from different genres of people. So I began contemplating other words used in similar situations and whether they are also pejorative. For instance, ‘sup ni**a’ turns to ‘sup man’ or ‘sup dude.’ Wikipedia informs us that these words were archaically used interchangeably – “Ni**ur” was evidently similar to the modern use of dude, or guy.” I mean many people seem to think that ‘dude’ actually means camel penis… If this were correct would this not also be offensive? Should the fact that dude is primarily used to refer to a man mean that women are unable to use the term, along with ‘bruv,’ ‘bro,’ ‘man,’ ‘boy,’ seeing as women are not men and therefore the word should become derogatory when used in such circumstances?

Let’s now take the word ‘bitch.’ I have discovered whilst on my year abroad that most Europeans think that bitch means prostitute and is incredibly insulting when directly translated. However the word has been lost in translation. In Britain at least, we use ‘bitch’ to mean someone, usually female, who is not a nice person, someone who talks behind your back, someone who spreads rumours or steals your boyfriend. It is also used to refer to something difficult, challenging, tiring eg: ‘I had a bitch of a day at work, I was late, spilled coffee over myself, my computer crashed 7 times…’  On the other hand though, and I quote Nikki Minaj “where my bad bitches at” in French Montana’s Freaks lyrics, the same word has come to be a term of endearment for one’s close girlfriends or ‘sisters’. What happens if a male uses the same word to refer to a woman? It does indeed become offensive, as highlighted throughout the entire lyric of the song Good Kush and Alcohol (Bitches Love Me) by Lil’ Wayne ft. Drake & Future. What’s going on here? How can we label ourselves and then get offended when someone else calls us by it? Why do we label ourselves with a word whose meaning is offensive in the first place? Is this not rather hypocritical?

Then what about words like ‘babe,’ ‘baby,’ ‘hun,’ ‘sweetie,’ etc? Why do we not consider these pejorative terms? Calling someone babe or baby implies that they are infantile and helpless, hun and sweetie imply sticky and, whether naturally or synthetically, overly sugared. Is this not in the literal sense a bit offensive? I don’t like the thought of being referred to as a bald, incontinent mute crossed with a jam doughnut and yet when someone calls me one of these names it makes me feel happy and loved. If bitch is then to mean sister or close friend (even while also signifying a horrible person) why does this not evoke the same emotion? Why is it insulting?

How have some words whose literal meanings are not offensive but merely descriptive become insults, while others whose literal meanings could quite easily be offensive have become terms of affection? Even within this article I have deemed it necessary to star out the word ni**a but not the word bitch. Is it because it is more socially acceptable to insult women than African Americans? Or is it because I am a myself a woman and therefore feel comfortable using the word bitch as it refers to my ‘own kind’ whereas ni**a does not?

 

Thoughts? 

(follow me on twitter and instagram @felitalyb)

Taking ‘ologies’ with a pinch of salt…

Recently I have made  a new friend who has introduced me to the Mayan ‘archetypes.‘ My archetype, it turns out, is the ‘Red, Rhythmic Skywalker.’ Now I think that’s a pretty cool name. It makes me feel like I’m dancing among the clouds wearing Britney Spears’ catsuit from the ‘Oops I Did it Again‘ video back at the beginning of the millennium. I mean it’s rather reminiscent of all that futuristic power jargon which was going on at that time don’t you think?

So anyway, this ‘Red, Rhythmic Skywalker‘ archetype gives me the ‘power of endless possibilities.‘ This is something that rather resonates with me (excuse the musical pun) due to my incapacity to ever decide on what path of life I’m going to take. I have so many opportunities waiting to be fulfilled and, because I’m a YES! person, I want to do all of them! But I can’t! And it’s totally frustrating.

However is this really something that’s typical just for me? Surely any twenty-something student is in the exact same position? Even the lucky few of my friends who have sorted their lives out and found themselves graduate jobs at various high-powered banks, law firms and advertising companies in Central London could have chosen from any number of career paths to go down and now still, seeing as they’ve chosen wisely, have set themselves up for a life full of amazing possibilities. Isn’t  endless possibility one of the main principles behind a liberal / capitalist society? – Be who you want to be, do what you want to do, think what you want to think, love who you want to love, feel what you want to feel… etc. etc. etc. – You can take advantage of all these possibilities, or indeed not, the choice is yours!

Then there’s the ‘Red, Rhythmic‘ part. Well, red is probably my favourite colour. Probably. If not it’s pink which is a watered down red so I guess that’s practically the same thing, right? It’s definitely the colour that suits me most, bright, passionate and goes well with my hair… I think I have more clothes that are red, or various shades thereof, than any other colour. So you know perhaps this was actually pre-disposed over 2000 years ago that I would be born on September the 23rd and absolutely adore the colour red. Rhythmic – I like to sing and I love the drums and Shakespeare and learning languages. These things are all rhythmic! How did the Mayans know this would be?! How did they know all those millennia ago what someone with my birthdate would be like? How? And if they want to tell me I have endless possibilities why can’t they tell me which one to choose seeing as they’re soooooo good at predictions?! And the ‘skywalking,’ is this the reason why I’m constantly tripping over, twisting my ankle and generally being clumsy?? If I get stilts will the accidents cease, causing me to become as graceful as a swan? Should I live on top of Mt. Everest? Am I exactly the same as everyone else born on the same date of the same month in the same year?

Whilst this is all fun and light-hearted games, I realise that for some an ‘ology’ is their way of life. Whether it be astrology, numerology, scientology or indeed this ‘mayanology,‘ all we’re searching for are the answers to a few not so simple questions: ‘why am I here?’ ‘what is my point in life?’ ‘what should I do with my future?’ ‘who should I marry?’ ‘is there such a thing as destiny?’ I suppose the reason then, that I am not so taken in by any of this ‘ologyness,’ is because I’m a here and now sort of girl. I love learning about these things, yes, but I’m quite happy going with the flow and making my own decisions even if really I’m not making them myself at all. In other words, I don’t think that my ‘star alignment’ is going to tell me whether I want to eat a Caesar salad or a pork pie and that, naturally, is all that matters.

 

Thoughts?

(follow me on twitter and instagram @felitalyb)