Saturday, 4 July 2015

Typical Girls

Over the past few months I have been thinking about feminism, and how I feel about it and how it relates to my life. I have been trying to read as much about it as possible, and this lead to me reading Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine. As part of my misspent twenties - or the wilderness years as I like to think of them, I DJed at a few different venues around Glasgow. I loved DJing, I was totally inspired by Queens of Noize, who spent the 00s running club nights in London, writing for NME, and hosting shows on MTV2 and 6music. I loved that they played such a mix of different styles of music, mixed with all the latest and coolest sounds. They were so knowledgable about music, perfectly able to mix the old and new. They weren't just saying they were into bands to impress guys - music meant as much to them as it did to me. When I got my first DJ gig with my lovely friend CJ, I messaged Mairead Nash (who more recently has managed Florence Welsh) on myspace (I know) and asked her if she had any advice, and what songs she was liking at the moment. She suggested I play Generator by the Holloways, The Bouncer covered by Klaxons, and Going Nowhere by Cut Copy. Songs that I still enjoy to this day. My favourite thing about Queens of Noize was that they were right up there in midst of all this indie rock n roll boys club. Their DJ sets always seemed like a big party, where dancing and having fun seemed to be as important as picking the next record. They were just the coolest. 

Reading Viv Albertine's memoir about her journey into music in the 70s really resonated with my own time DJing. It even relates to the above NME article which lived on my wall for five years. Being a girl who is into music means you only want to sleep with guys in bands, nothing about what you think their music is like apparently. I certainly felt some male bias in my life as a DJ, I went to Greece on holiday in like 2005 and there were a few indie bars, I had taken over a few CDs with me, and asked one of them if I could do an hour set. Afterwards they said I was good, but was a bit heavy on females artists. At the times I didn't think much of it - other than -fuck! I better look out some Oasis, but now it makes me so angry. Surely hearing some great female indie music has to be better than the same old crap over and over again. Lads with swagger that I don't relate to - sorry but I live my life through the eyes of a woman and that's my main point of reference I'm afraid. Oops a bit of the rage popping out there. For the most part though I never felt that at the places I worked in Glasgow, big shout out to Maggie Mays and Slouch! I feel that at Maggie's I really managed to get that whole let's have a big party and listen to music vibe going. I think that was helped by exploring different genre's of music which Viv says was so important in the sound of The Slits. To be stuck in a mind set where you only listen to one genre of music is completely alien to me - I almost feel claustrophobic thinking about it. Although to be fair I will never ever listen to happy hardcore, is that even music.

I love when Viv is describing The Slits as a band they sound vulgar, which is what I really like in my female performers. I like performers who make you feel uncomfortable. I love women playing guitars and screaming lyrics. Give me Stevie screaming Rhiannon any day over some whispery vocal act that seems to be churned out by record companies far too often. This makes me think of Ellie Goulding, remember when she brought out her first album? Did an advert for John Lewis and we were all like, ooh what a unique sound. Then record companies jumped all over it, and it feels like so many female artists are now just Ellie Goulding knock offs, and even she has gotten tired of that, prefering to put out pop/dance tracks with Calvin Harris. What is being a female indie performer when the real money for women is made in pop?

When I was writing this I finally got round to watching Rihanna's new video - wow. She is the man! Honestly. It is vulgar perfection. I personally don't think there is anything sexy or degrading about it. I am sure I can hear now people saying - the children, someone think of the children. Well you know what - don't let your kids watch it!

Possibly what I liked most about Viv's (I call her by her first name as I feel we are friends now) book is that she has had to go on and rebuild her life a quite a few times. Guess what I can totally relate to that! When The Slits spilt she was completely at a loss, and writes about this time in her life with such honesty. Every chapter is so honest - it is fantastic writing and one hundered percent punk because of that. After the band broke up she couldn't listen to music for three years, this I got. When my anxiety was really bad I couldn't listen to any music, or at least any music that meant anything to me. So I spent my time listening to watered down pop, not the best time of my life - for oh so many reasons. When Viv talks about rebuiding herself towards the end of her marriage, I felt like she was speaking to me, and where I am in my life now. She had closed off her past self to give her life as a wife and mother a chance, but in doing so she was denying the artist in her a life. I feel like I have spent so much time getting myself well again that I have almost closed off parts of myself, like my artistic and creative side. I know over the next few months this part of me is going to blossom again - I am throwing myself back into music and fashion, two passions which have been somewhat neglected of late. I may as well keep you all updated on here to see how that goes. I am going to learn how to play the guitar. I feel lucky to have so many great female role models in music, when Viv started - she had none, she became her own role model and in doing that became mine too. 

Right here are my top ten female artists - I haven't included Kylie in this because my love for her should be a post in itself.

1. Stevie Nicks 

2. Annie Hardy (Giant Drag) 

3.PJ Harvey 

4. Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

5. Shakespear's Sister (I had some confusing feelings after watching this video as a child)
 6. Florence Welsh

7. Honeyblood 

8.Sleater Kinney

9. Nico

10. Kate Bush (Svaing the best til last)


Monday, 4 May 2015

Free Your Pits

I am not sure what it is, if it's the recent blast of sunny weather or my growing interest in what being a woman means to me, but I have become properly obsessed with body hair and personal grooming. Yuk - personal grooming, how gross does that sound?! 

So I was a teenager in the 00s, what a sad time that was for body hair. Pretty much as soon as you had any you began an epic battle to get rid of it. I have red hair, so my body hair is pretty light. This doesn't matter though if you are headed into a secondary school gym hall in a pair of shorts. I think the first time I shaved my legs I was in primary 7, it was pretty much a case of - well all the other girls are doing it, so I should too. This really sticks out for me because as a kid and teenager I was pretty happy doing my own thing, I think I just felt this would make me feel grown up. At the time I was using an electric razor that my mum had - hello hygiene, which on reflection didn't actually remove any hair. After that I graduated to a Wilkinson Sword razor, I can't remember what it was called, but I think it was lilac in colour - you know so you pay more for it. The first time I used it I was amazed by how silky smooth my legs felt, a feeling I still enjoy today, but it less frequent because I don't spend quite as much time and care shaving my legs as I used to. I remember shaving my legs in the mornings before PE, and my dad going mental cos I was in the shower so long I used up all the hot water. 

That's the legs- I used to shave my legs at least once a week, more if it was summer or I was going on a night out where you need your legs looking your best i.e. hairless. I think I will come back to the full routine of my 20s in a bit because it gets me a bit exhausted thinking about it. 

As a teenager I was obsessed with smooth armpits. The thought of wearing a vest top or one of those lovely strapless Tammy Girl crop tops with out shaving my pits, was pretty much unthinkable. It was gross, and quite frankly was not my idea of what a teenage girl should look like. I don't think the girls from Steps were running about in their stunning 00s outfits with armpit fuzz on display.

I started watching Sex And The City when I was about 15, I used it as my guide to womanhood. I was pretty certain I would grow up and write for Vogue, have a full designer wardrobe and sink cocktails every night with three fabulous but so different you were really confused as to how you all became friends friends. In the episode 'Sex And Another City', we see Carrie getting a brazilian, well not the full thing, just the facial expressions that go with someone ripping hair from your groin. The LA episodes are some of my favourite episodes, and as this type of television is so (watch out for the buzzword) aspirational, I could not wait to get one myself. It was such a sure sign of successful womanhood. Like I said I was 15, so there was no need at all for a brazilian. I think I am telling you this to give you an idea of how intense the media pressure was for girls of my generation was to remove any body hair you had.

This SATC episode really did start to form the basis of my personal grooming regime. For most of my 20s, oh when I think about this....., it feels like so much time and money was wasted on hair removal, time that could be spent on sitting down and money that could be spent on alcohol (sorry I mean university recommended reading). Once a week, usually coinciding with a big night out would be the day of hair removal, that's when I would go for the long shower. I'd start by Immac'ing the bikini area, have you ever used Immac/Veet - is it gross, burns if it is left on too long and stinks. Yes you are putting chemicals onto your skin that will burn your skin if they are left on too long. After like the most boring 10 mins of my life, time to pop in the shower, get rid of the smell best you can, wash your body, head hair - (don't bother with any other hair - it is coming off anyway), then a leave in conditioner. After the conditioner is applied, that's your time to shave the legs, pits and any parts the immac left. I need a nap just writing that down. The worst bit of shaving your legs living in a freezing student flat is that when you're getting changed into your clothes, you'll get a shiver and bam your legs are hairy again. I also forgot to mention all the body scrubbing as well, to get rid of all the ingrown hairs that I had created myself.

Now, I am pretty much of the opinion, if my no one is seeing my legs they are going to be hairy. I have even worn nude tights because I can't be bothered shaving my legs - so not fashion, but very much K Middy at a Royal Event. I know some of you will be thinking - oh but what if a guy is going to see my legs?! My answer is simple - black opaque hold ups. Super sexy, and the hairy legs stay hidden, or get your legs out - guys do not care. If they do that is another story all together. 

I feel recently there has been a move away from all this hair removal, well maybe not all of it. Pubic hair seems to be getting a little less sphinx cat and more seventies porn. I for one am behind this. Maybe it's being lazy, but I am quite enjoying not smelling Veet on my skin. Gywinnie has spoken about her 70s vibe going on , and even after speculation that Cameron Diaz made her get rid of it, Cameron agrees it has a purpose. Armpit hair has also made a come back, most recently Miley Cyrus has dyed her's pink - and I love it. I am not sure if it is my commitment to the 90s grunge look, I have decided to grow out my own (my younger self who was horrified by Julia Roberts hairy pits will be shocked). So far I am about 5 days in - I'm aiming for about two weeks, just to see if I like it. Might even dye it pink as well. 

All we need is for Kim K to rock it, and we will have a trend....sigh... Imagine if Kim K did for arm pit hair what she has done for contouring.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

My love letter to Valentine's Day.

I cannot get enough of Valentine's day. I just love it. It is a kind of weird day split between romantic couples and sad, lonely singles. I however don't see it like that - and I don't know that I ever have. I'm gonna talk you through my history of loving love day! I think to start with I always loved getting valentine's cards, even although they were always from my parents when I was a kid (and I wasn't aware, or maybe was but just pretended I wasn't), it was so exciting! Who was my mystery admirer - although surely your scope for suitors has to be pretty small when you're a kid, yukky boys from school or maybe like one of the Power Rangers, the red one probably. So I guess that happens for a few years until it gets weird for your Dad to send you the card.

Then before you know it you are a teenager, in my head I am pretty adamant that (in my group of friends), the guys and girls didn't really fancy each other and just liked hanging out. Plus I was a ginger - so I'm not sure I was that fanciable as a teenager. I think this is when I got into the proper romance of valentines though. I am about to share with you images of one of my prized belongings - and no it's not more photos of my teddy bear Important Ted. I have a massive magazine collection, which has everything in it from australian bridal magazines to old copies of Kerrang! with Muse on the front cover. Yes, that is correct I am about to show you an old battered copy of the Sunday Herald Magazine from 11th February 2002.

So for starters it has the most beautiful imagine of Marilyn Monroe - much replicated and never bettered - I'm looking at you Lohan.

Possibly the most influential part of this magazine on my 15 year old self was the amazing article on Joe Corre and Serena Rees and their lingerie company Agent Provocateur. I'm not kidding - for my 21st birthday when a lot of my friends were getting jewellery and other keepsakes - I got my first full set of Agent Provocateur lingerie. From the Love collection if you're interested. I think this is where I got the idea that Valentine's should be a day of luxury and extravagance, spoiling yourself if there is no one else to do it. For being 15 I was oh so wise I think you'll agree. It was at about this time at Agent Provocateur released a collaboration with Marks and Spencer, which of course I managed to treat myself to, it was the only way at that time I was getting anywhere near to owning AP underwear myself. Cringingly perhaps was that during the sunday herald article they mentioned S&M quite a bit, and I was like Mum - they keep on typing M&S wrong - silly journalists. So I was wise, but still a little innocent.

Then as mentioned on the front cover there is a section on celebrities between the sheets. These images are too cute not to share. 

Oh Sunday Herald how punny are you - The Lie-In King. Yes. Anyways - back to me, I think for the next couple of years I had a boyfriend so got right into the whole valentines thing - and by that I don't mean OTT cards and teddy bears holding silky red love hearts (totally fine if you are into that, I just don't happen to be), I mean that I gave him my last Rolo - remember when that was a thing (?), oh and that year he gave me tickets to see Jimmy Eat World. I do still feel bad about that! 

When I went to uni Valentines became all about friends - I was so very single during my time at uni, I think I was too busy being ill - or having fun - maybe studying, but mostly being ill. During my time at the Candy Store - the most magical student flat that was ever created, we used to have a Valentine's Day which we affectionately called the Valentine's Day Massacre, it usually involved lunch, day drinking, shopping and a trip to Ann Summers. It really was always a riot and I think of it fondly.

So what does Valentine's Day involve this year? Needless to say I have been super excited about Valentine's since about 20th January. I am single this year - in keeping with the theme of my twenties, and as it turns out I am quite enjoying it. I am spending the day with the love of my life*. I've had a kind of small love, big hate relationship with myself over the past 10 or so years (see previous posts to discover the shit show that has been my 20s), and now I feel that I can look at myself and be with myself in a way that is only loving on this Valentines. I think it is easy to be anti-valentine's when you are single, but who needs that kind of hate in their life? I am spending today doing my favourite things, eating yummy food, drinking champagne and at some point I will have a Lush bath with some of their lovely Valentine's day collection. So whatever you do today, have a great time and remember all love comes from within.

Heather xxx

*It's me dumbass.