Sunday, 25 August 2013

Natural vs Unnatural

I'm going to be honest with you, about an hour ago, wearing no makeup and a cardigan that only my mother would approve of (bad news) I was racking my brains for a blog post idea. The result was these pictures, some amature selfies which I hoped to translate into some sort of mundane 'face of the day' post which I imagine might have left everyone with just a tinge of disappointment. Then it occurred to me, like a little lightbulb going off with a ping under my blue hair, that I could spoon feed something a little more topical to my blog.
As a person, I'm opinionated, but I'm reluctant to talk about things unless I have a really good understanding of them. And one thing that I'm really interested in is how the media deals with body image. Bear with me, and hopefully this won't turn into a menial GCSE Media studies essay, although I'm not sure the inclusion of selfies would up my marks by much.
The way we look is something that pretty much affects everyone, some more than others. Like most people, as a child I wasn't hugely happy with how I looked. I hated the fact that I had inherited my dad's extremely fine mousey brown hair, as opposed to the thick, black hair that my mother is lucky enough to have. It wasn't necessarily because I thought my brown hair was ugly, I just thought it was boring. And it really was, for me it was, but for someone else, it might be just right for them. Because of this, I started dying my hair as a teenager, starting off with a darker brown, veering through to black, tinted purple, and ending up, age 20, applying my first bleach kit. My mother couldn't understand why I was doing it, saying 'but you looked so lovely with your natural hair, why would you want to change yourself?' Well, I'm telling you, and I'm telling her (Hi mum) that I'm much more comfortable with my aesthetic identity now than I was then, as my unnatural self has become in some ways, a part of my identity that I enjoy indulging.

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Of course, it is natural for parents to be like that, as after all, they made you, and often they just see you as a successful little version of themselves. But dying my hair became something I enjoyed, as I tend to get bored of my appearance very easily (I'm already prepping for my next dye job). Alongside this, I've dabbled with piercings, something my parents really didn't approve of. The fact is, I really love the way that we can change how we look so much, and look as colourful or as different as we like, but I don't see this as indicative of some deep seated insecurity, as that manifests itself in other ways. I see this as having endless possibilities, and (this is going to sound hideously pretentious) being able to treat my body as a piece of art, and do what I like with it.

Much as I love watching shows like Snog Marry Avoid, it is very much a product of the size zero backlash, demanding that 'real' women get the attention they deserve as opposed to stick thin media darlings who have been manipulated by photoshop into some sort of ideal. Of course, it is important to encourage people that they should be happy in their own skin, but the idea of 'real' women, or indeed men, is a tricky one. On Snog Marry Avoid, it is often assumed that those with makeup, tan, hair dye and other cosmetic additions are not confident in themselves, and they don't believe they are 'natural beauties.' I think this is a message that needs some desperate refining. The truth is, some people want to change how they look because there are so many different options out there, not simply because they believe themselves to be ugly.

For me personally, I am comfortable with the way I look as long as it conveys some elements of my personality and what I am interested in. I feel I am able to do this with hair dye, piercings and tattoos (not quite yet with the latter), and I believe many other people are the same. People can choose to do what they like with their bodies, and they may choose to do it for different reasons other than feeling insecure. They may choose to do it, simply, because they believe it is a reflection of who they are, and who is anyone else to say any different?

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I'd like to say to people who say to others, in good faith, 'why would you want to hide yourself under all that (insert body/hair modification here)?' that it's important to remember that just because someone looks unnatural, that they shouldn't be stigmatised. It's an addition to how you look, NOT a way to cover it up. They're just having fun with how they look and presenting themselves in the way that they see the most fit, and I think that's it wonderful that we live in a society where we are privileged enough to do that!

My blue hair, piercings and tattoo lust may just be belated teenage rebellion, but either way, I'm going to enjoy indulging the unnatural side of me as part of the constructing of my own identity. And I'd like to say to other people that you can change how you look all you want, veer as far away from the natural as you see fit, and if you like yourself, then that's really all anybody needs to know.

What do you think about unnatural beauty vs natural beauty? Have you ever been judged because the way you look doesn't necessarily conform to what is deemed natural? I'm genuinely interested to hear your opinions, so please comment down below, tweet me, or email me with what you think.

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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Saturday, 17 August 2013

The 'slightly larger' Mermaid.

One little confession before I begin, The Little Mermaid isn't actually one of my favourite Disney films, infact, all my Disney VHS's remain in my parent's loft gathering considerable dust. Having said that, I've always had a significant pre disposition towards fantasy, which started when I would make up stories as a young child and has remained with me. There's always been something very beautiful about Mermaids. Even if they are leading sailors to their deaths, they're still maintaining an enviable pastel hair colour and a practically dayglo tale whilst they're at it, and that's what we all want right? For a sea themed night the other day, I decided to finally wear my beautiful new Motel dress, which looks like a mermaid's tale (although whether mermaids actually have sequins on their tales is still an ambiguous issue in popular legend). But genuinely, this is probably the most beautiful dress I have ever seen.

Today's Mermaid inspired outfit comes with an element of seapunk too, another Tumblr neologism that describes a subculture of 'alternative' dress inspired by sea imagery such as our mythical fishy friends. In other words it means dying your hair ridiculous colours and inspiring enhances eye rolling from all your friends. Turns out I'm quite good at that!

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Dress - Motel (Originally bought through Ark but has sold out apart from in Nude)
Shoes - Asos

I think that my long term obsession with coloured hair was encouraged in some part by a particular version of The Little Mermaid, a Russian adaption named Rusalochka, from 1976 (images below). There was a period of last year where I became a bit obsessed with Eastern European films, which generally reflects my love of anything Eastern/Northern European as a whole. Rusalochka describes a beautiful pastel haired mermaid who has the chance to become a princess and marry the prince, but if she cannot persuade the prince before the spell of her feigned humanity wears off, then she will die. You can watch it here if you're interested, it has plenty of Tumblr worthy hair, beautiful cinematography and a few jaunty songs to lead you through. I would like to think my outfit here is a particularly modern adaption of some of the bright colourful imagery associated with Rusalochka in the film.

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The makeup for my mermaid inspired look involved a lot of greens, blues and glittery silvers. For my eyes I used a mixture of Dainty Doll eyeshadow in Jungle Green (from Poundland!), Urban Decay Mildew, and silver and green tones from my Sleek 'Bad Girl' pallette (slightly cringey name, bloody awesome palette). Alongside this I used my trusty Topshop Sunshower eye crayon (no longer available, but any eye crayon in gold works) to bring some interest to the inside corners of my eyes. For my lipstick, I used Revlon's Black cherry as well as a purple Topshop lipstick, for that 'I've just sucked the souls out of some unsuspecting sailors' sirenia look.
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Rings - Asos
These rings are a dupe of the Balenciaga stacked gold rings from the trusty Asos, although frankly they're not that trusty as they changed from Gold to Silver the first time I wore them, and left my fingers as green as my dress. They're still quite a cute little detail though. My photographer Sean told me to do a pose as if I was punching the camera to make myself appear 'cool'. I should have realised this wasn't obtainable.
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And lastly, my hair, probably the crowning glory of any self respecting mermaid. Surprisingly I was actually going for a purple with this dye job, but after using Crazy Colours in Violette on bleached hair, it went a very vivid blue. Well actually, thanks to Luke's lovely dad for doing this colour for me or else it would have come out as a particularly patchy blue. I'm usually quite adventurous with my hair so the fact it went this vivid didn't bother me at all, and I'm actually really enjoying it at the moment. It certainly makes an interesting contrast with the green dress. It's also holding up pretty well, after I learnt the divine knowledge of keeping hair colour bright, that of washing it in cold water and cold water only. It makes so much of a difference and I wish I'd known about it before.
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Thanks very much again to Sean and Maire for helping me take these photos, even when slightly drunk, they did a good job. Hope you enjoy my themed playlist too!


Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Start wearing purple.

If you had suggested to me three years ago that I should buy a multicoloured leopard print top, I probably would have squealed and hidden behind my excessive amount of black Peter pan collar dresses. But as I've got older I've become a lot more open to various fashion trends, which hasn't had a wonderful effect on by bank account, but has brought me at least minutes of happiness at a time. But this Kenzo inspired top was a must for me, my immediate thought was that it would look cool with my (newly but patchily dyed) purple hair. Coupled with my unnervingly tight American Apparel easy jeans it actually makes for a pretty easy Summer outfit (though sitting down in these is not an option).
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Jacket - New Look
Top - Internacionale
Jeans - American Apparel
Shoes - Converse via Cloggs
Bag - Zatchels

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(Nape piercing done by Sunderland Body Art)

So far I've not been exactly adventurous with my piercings. I had the typical Claire's Accessories experience by having my ears pierced as a young teenager, as well as getting a nose ring aged 17, which after accidentally punching myself in the nose (it happened) and unknowingly dropping the ring down the escalators at Warren Street Tube Station, I reluctantly gave up on it. This was after having a few Golumn esque days of rather breathily saying 'where IS it?'. This piercing was a whole new direction for me. Infact, all this body modification in the shape of my hair and my piercings is inevitably delayed teenage rebellion. After seeing it on Tumblr in some sort of whimsical photo I knew it was for me, so whilst on a trip to the North East I made the most of their legions of piercing and body art places and got this neck piercing, otherwise known as a nape piercing. It consists of putting a bar through your neck and screwing the two little jewelry pieces you can see on.It certainly wasn't as painful as I thought it would be, and it has been surprisingly easy to take care of, although I warn you, it occasionally gets stuck on your hair and your clothes, but it's just a case of washing it regularly. I absolutely love it and hope to maintain it for as long as possible. My piercing wish list it also growing rapidly, so watch this space!

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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