Monday, 28 December 2015

Thoughts On Reinvention

Where would we all be if we weren't constantly encouraged and reassured by the notion of reinvention, of creating a new image for ourselves? I always associate the time after Christmas with the warm feeling of being able to start afresh, making the most of new gifts given and making promises to yourself about how you'll learn Russian, finally become a vegetarian and start volunteering. As a child I would make a list of hundreds of things that I wanted to do in the New Year, no, that I had to do in the New Year, otherwise I would stay the same unimpressive me. Though it seemed motivational at the time, I think that kind of behaviour encouraged a sense of self-loathing in me, scrutinising every part of myself and wanting it to change. This frustration with myself would often lead me further away from my goals, rather than closer, because I didn't feel good enough to achieve them.oxford eve 3
Jumper - Rotita
Jeggings - Uniqlo
Shoes - Hunter via TK Maxx
Beanie - Commando (out of stock)

Usually I write a post at the end of every year analysing it, and concluding about what I want to do in the next year. I'm not sure if that will cut it this time. Every year is ups and downs and this one has been no different, but the one thing that seems significant about 2015 is that both my world view and perspective have really changed.

This year has opened me up to everything, to the importance of friendship, to the importance of showing vulnerability and showing yourself kindness as well as others, both of which I have written about here and here. 

Next year I am 23. I don't know whether I thought I would be in this place aged 23 a few years back, and there's still so many exciting projects I want to work on and things I want to do with my life. Your early 20's is a confusing and overwhelming time and it's one I imagine I will look upon fondly in the future, and I want to be able to enjoy it, and live fully in it, without being constantly hard on myself and putting pressure on myself to be better.

Better can be a really vicious concept. I see this quote kicking about the internet: 'Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself'. I ate that up a few years ago, thinking I could mould myself into the shape (not just physically but mentally) that I wanted to be. To some extent I think that is true, but it's also exhausting. One of my favourite songs, Two Step by Dave Matthews Band (don't roll your eyes) includes the lyrics: 'Celebrate we will, Because life is short but sweet for certain/We're climbing two by two/To be sure these days continue/These things we cannot change'. I really relate to these lyrics, because I think in the pursuit of perfection, and with a grass is greener mentality, we sometimes forget to just enjoy what is there. You can jump from goal to goal, from university to job, ticking boxes, and forget who you are in the process, and forget that life itself is incredible and overwhelming at times.

oxford eve 4

In the past I have forgotten to truly appreciate the fact I have a stable family dynamic, that I have wonderful, hilarious and supportive friends, that I am from a city that I am basically in love with, that I work at a job that is stimulating. I have put my work out there and lamented how it didn't get the response I was hoping for, instead of just being proud of the fact that I was actually making stuff and writing something, just putting something of yourself out there is enough. 

I have written about learning to accept myself before, but I really had no idea what that entailed until now. I accepted myself conditionally, on the basis that one day I would learn to stop being so emotional, that I would fit into a size 8, that I would achieve specific goals. These kinds of thoughts don't cut it, and they just leave you hollow. It sounds clichéd, but you don't live in the now because you're always hoping the future is better, that you will be better.

Before the clock strikes 12 on NYE I'm going to sit down and consider what I really want for myself next year, other than learning swahili and eating more kale. I'm going to set myself realistic goals but also tell myself that my life doesn't depend upon those goals being reached. It's been hard to learn, but ultimately your worth is intrinsic and not based on exterior successes. You should go after goals because you're passionate about them and want the best for yourself, but be mindful that life is more than goals, whether they be relationship or squad related. 

I'm going to take this opportunity to be excited about the year ahead and what I could be getting up to, but I don't think it's about reinvention anymore. Its about embracing life as it comes, realising that happiness is not an end goal, and that it's all just part of a process. This is just a reminder to be gentle and not be hard on yourself, and that sometimes acceptance of the good and bad parts of you is better than reinvention.

What are your hopes for 2016?

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 20 December 2015

41 Ways To Be Kind To Yourself

One of the principle messages of Christmas is to spread kindness to those around us, but often we can forget to extend that kindness to ourselves. I find it quite a stressful time of year because there seems to be a lot of pressure to enjoy yourself as much as possible, and when the New Year rolls round, we are encouraged to make New Years resolutions, and shape our now bloated selves into something better than we have been before.

When we put so much pressure on ourselves we forget to actually treat ourselves with kindness. We forget to actually enjoy our lives in the pursuit of something that we feel will be the end goal, the job offer, relationship or project that will make us happy.
aa girl 2

I think that next year I'm going try and treat myself with kindness and care, rather than focus on strict resolutions that encourage me to be hard on myself. I wanted to share some of the activities that always make me feel better. Kindness doesn't have to be an extravagant act, and as a result I've tried to not make this list overwhelmingly about spending money as I know this isn't possible for everyone. Some of these points may seem very obvious to you, but I always find that it helps to be reminded of the importance of day to day tasks when taking care of ourselves. Basically this is all just one big 'friendly reminder'.

It's also important to note that I'm not trying to make these out as cures for depression or anything. They are just ways that I find helpful when getting out of a slump and feeling more motivated to enjoy life.

1. Get out of bed

Do you ever find yourself, on a day off, scrolling through tumblr in bed? This might be fun for a while but it's better to actually get up and moving, so you don't end up feeling, um, stale for most of the day!

2. Put on an outfit you love

I know that if I'm going to meet a friend or to a gathering that I will make an effort with my outfit, but when I'm having a quieter day I might neglect this. But wearing a great outfit always makes me feel more like myself, as style is important to me.

3. Wear some exciting socks

This one probably sounds a bit daft, but there are so many novelty patterned socks out there, and it always makes me feel a bit happier about my day when I've got some interesting footwear on!

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4. Take a bath

I always find it interesting when people say that they prefer showers over baths, I'd much rather soak in the tub any day! Having a hot bath can relax your muscles and is a great way to indulge yourself, perhaps on a lazy Sunday. 

5. Cook a meal

My friends will probably laugh at this because I am notoriously not a cook, but I've actually found recently that cooking can be very therapeutic. Try a pasta sauce, risotto or soup, and you might find that the process of cooking something delicious for yourself feels really good.

6. Bake something

This isn't something I am an expert on, but I have been informed that baking is a great way to be kind to yourself, and it usually ends with cupcakes, so...

7. Go for a walk

Getting out of the house is so, so important, particularly during the holidays. Take a 20 minute walk and soak up your surroundings!

8. Take a photo of something pretty

I love using instagram and it's always fun to share something beautiful that you have seen. Whether it's flowers, fruit or a landmark, taking a snap makes you appreciate the world around you more. 

9. Look at photos/videos of your favourite animal

If your favourite animal is a cat, then the internet is truly ready for you. I've genuinely had my mood lifted by stumbling upon a video of a dog winning a world record on a skateboard. The best and most adorable way to be kind to yourself.

10. Go to a charity shop

I absolutely love charity shopping, something that has been passed down by my family, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have a rummage and maybe find something a bit different and most importantly, cheaper than high street stores. It also feels good to buy something great and give money to charity at the same time, so it's a win win.

11. Go to a pound shop/dollar store and buy something fun/cheap/ridiculous

Whether it's confetti, a plastic skull goblet or a minion themed facewash, you can find some great stuff in pound shops. If you live near one take a trip down there and see if you can find anything, and if not, they always have chocolate!

12. Have a cup of tea or coffee

Tea drinking is something of a ritual in the UK. It really is one of the most soothing things you can do in my opinion. If you can, find yourself some good quality coffee, herbal tea or hot chocolate and just savour it away from your laptop or phone for 20 minutes.

13. Light some candles or incense

This is a very significant act of self care for me. My mum always lights a lot of incense and candles at home so it's quite a nostalgic, relaxing practice for me. Candles can be expensive but you can often find cheap ones in Primark and on Ebay, and remember to blow them out before you leave the house (self care does not equal burning the house down). 

14. Wash your face/brush your teeth

This seems obvious, but if you're having a relaxed day or you are hungover, you might neglect to do this. I always feel at least 50x better after I've done this because I'm more ready for the day (and I don't feel completely gross). 

15. Have a cry 

Crying is very strongly associated with negative emotions. But sometimes we cry because we want to let off steam and take some of the weight off of our shoulders. If you are crying constantly, then you might want to go and see a GP, but otherwise crying can be therapeutic.

16. Print out your favourite pieces of art and put them on your wall

Being surrounded by images you love can be reassuring and motivational. I have Picasso, Alexander Mcqueen gowns and the fashion photographer Tim Walker on my wall! If you don't have access to your own printer, try your local library, a friend's house or ask if you can use your printers at work.

17. Listen to an audiobook/podcast

Sometimes we might feel too tired to read. I've grown up listening to audiobooks and it's one of my favourite activities. There is audible if you want to buy some audiobooks, and loads of podcasts such as Serial and Welcome to Nightvale which are free!

18. Reorganise your bookshelf/desk space

Getting rid of the clutter is a productive way to spend time, and I personally really love reorganising my belongings! 

19. Take some time out to focus on breathing/meditate

Meditation can sound really daunting, and when you first try it, it's hard. Someone said to me the other day that 'our body loves positive and negative thoughts but hates the neutral'. Shutting your mind off from all your worries takes time and practice, but the benefits are significant. We often forget to feel aware of ourselves and our existence and it's important to come back to that. There are so many resources out there to get you started, such as this articles on the ten best meditation apps.

20. Ring or message a friend

Even if you're just checking up on them, this will probably not only make them feel good but it will remind you of the people around you, particularly if you're feeling lonely.

21. Ask a friend out that you haven't seen for a while

I'm not the most proactive person in the world, but sometimes if we don't reach out to others they might get the wrong idea that we don't want to hang out with them. Ask out a friend for coffee/a walk and it will hopefully make you both feel good.

22. Go to a museum or gallery

If you live near a city, you have no excuse not to immerse yourself in some culture, as many galleries are free! Whenever I am sad my dad always tells me to go the British museum, and at first I was scornful, but when you think about it, seeing incredible artefacts and history reminds you that there is something bigger than yourself and your mind, and makes you more aware of this beautiful world we live in. 

23. Buy some flowers or plants

Having some plants in your house can really help your space feel refreshed. If you live near a market you can get some really lovely flowers for some great deals!

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24. Change your bedding

This is such a simple but effective one. Changing your duvet cover can feel a pain, but getting into a fresh bed is one the most simple joys in life. 

25. Clean something in your house

I find that the idea of cleaning seems about as attractive to me as pulling my toenails out, but when I actually start doing it it's a weirdly therapeutic form of exercise!

26. Cover your room in photos

Having photos of your best moments/best friends around you is always a great reminder of how awesome life can be. You can use Polargram to print out your instagram photos or Photobox to bulk order photo prints. Often they have great deals on that mean you get a load of photos for only a couple of quid, so keep an eye out!

27. Go online and treat yourself to something small (or big)! 

Have an Amazon wishlist? If it's payday, treat yourself to something small but significant, like a paperback or a bath bomb. 

28. Dye your hair

I know this isn't for everyone, but a new look can really give you confidence and a boost. If you don't want to make a huge commitment, you could try colour shampoos such as Bleach Rose to add a non permanent tint to your hair.

29. Go through a family album

I love looking at baby pictures and old family holiday photos when I'm at home. If you're feeling low about your life, it sometimes really helps to see yourself as a child, because it might remind you that you were a person before something bad happened to you, that you have a lot of potential, that you looked frankly adorable in a pixie hat. 

30. Put up some bunting/fairy lights

I know this sounds very twee, but fairy lights have such a calming effect for me and I love to lace them around my room!

31. Read something relaxing

Don't let people tell you that certain books aren't worth reading or aren't academic enough. Let yourself have a guilty pleasure, as these are often the books you enjoy the most! Hell, if you want to read 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight, I'm not going to stop you. I personally really like reading autobiographies or magazines when I want something more relaxing. 

32. Create a playlist of your favourite songs

Music is a really important part of my life, and I find making playlists really therapeutic. If you don't have a spotify subscription, youtube works just as well!

33. Draw something

If you're lucky enough to be a good illustrator or even if you're self-proclaimed terrible, drawing can be really fun. Maybe find an image on the internet to copy and see where it takes you!

34. Get a fake tattoo

Anything that makes us appreciate our bodies a little bit more is a winner for me. There are so many fun fake tattoos out there and you can genuinely get some beautiful ones if you can splash out a bit more.

35. Try yoga

I know, it's the age-old stereotype. But yoga can help our bodies and minds, and if we have the opportunity to do it we can really reap the benefits. Yoga classes can be pricey, but I know that at least in London you can find low-cost yoga for as little as £5 a class or by donation. Search around your location and take yourself along to a beginner's class!

36. Eat some grapes

You know in films where people are lounging and having grapes fed to them? There's a reason for that, grapes are the ultimate in (mostly affordable) luxury.

37. Watch half an hour of your favourite comedy

I feel like comedy shows are made for self care. Many of them clock in under 25 minutes and so they're perfect for taking yourself out of the work zone for a short amount of time, when things start to feel overwhelming. My favourite feel good show at the moment is Parks and Recreation, it's so cheerful yet wickedly funny! 

38. Find some therapy

I realise this won't be relevant for everyone, but many of those who are struggling and can't afford to pay the huge costs of therapy don't realise that there is something on offer out there for them. Google 'low cost therapy' in your area and see if you can get yourself on to a waiting list. Some of these therapy sessions can cost as little as £5. 

39. Collect postcards/trinkets and make a scrapbook

Scrapbooking feels like it might be a dying art, but it's a great way to collect memories of past trips and cool objects! Remember when Amelie discovers the time capsule box of a little boy's toys in her house and it changes everything? Hopefully it will be like that for you in 20 years or so.

40. Listen to music in the shower

Nothing puts me in a better mood than doing this in the morning.  Blast some of your favourite music whilst you're showering and you'll probbaly feel 100x more ready for the day!

41. Tell somebody you love them

Because you know, we're all so busy that sometime we forget to say the obvious, and remembering that you have people around you who you love and who love you is awesome.

What do you like to do when you want to be kind to yourself? Please let me know below and I'll add it to the list!

Thanks so much for reading!


Monday, 16 November 2015

Yellow Blue Pink

You're probably wondering why so many London visitors have been uploading photos of themselves wandering through the mist recently. To quote my friend and twitter celebrity Dan, 'everyone is pissing about in that foggy room'.
'States Of Mind' by Ann Veronica Janssens is the new, very popular exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, probably one of my favourite places in London (they also recently had exhibitions on forensics and sexology, both of which were brilliant). It's not all just about pretty colours, Janssens' work tackles the nature of consciousness and perception. 'Entering the gallery is to submit to colour as a physical entity, to be subsumed by the experience of seeing' (from the exhibit leaflet). Janssens deals with our subjective perception and how it affects or sheds light on our consciousness, in States Of Mind she focuses on our experience of sight by creating a disorientating space. Don't let the photos fool you, it is very difficult to see anything in there. Luke and I walked into a wall and nearly bumped into some of the other people walking around.
I'm no art critic, but my main observations from the installation were as follows:
1) Janssens seeks to fragment our senses here and bring sight forward. We are used to having our senses work together to aid our perception, but here we are denied total understanding. To me it seemed quite a lot like a dream. I don't know whether you guys get this but sometimes when I close my eyes I'll get a sort of residue from the things I have previously seen, for instance sometimes I will imagine a wall of white and at other times I'll imagine black lines that will fuzz around my brain. I have certainly never imagined pink mist but the experience struck a chord with me, as Janssens brings out colour and gives it no real context other than just perceiving what is right in front of you. I doubt there is any other experience that allows you to just exist within colour. From the leaflet: 'Colour is caught in a state of suspension, veiling any detail or service within the space.'

2)It kind of reminded me of a theory that I learnt about at university, solipsism, that the only thing that exists is existence itself. States of Mind critiques the idea of consciousness and brings it to the fore. By taking away any other context or detail, we are confronted by the nature of our own existence within the mist.

3) Luke and I took a lot of photos. We are so painfully millennial that we still managed to take selfies in the impenetrable mist.



Luke wore his Mariah Carey inspired 'Elusive Chanteuse' t-shirt especially for this rather elusive experience.



The photo above was taken a few moments after we walked in - first impressions!
States Of Mind is on until 3rd January 2016. It is free, but you generally have to queue up for about an hour to get in, so take a book! Find out more here.


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Figuring it out #1: On Embracing Your Vulnerability

oxford profile pic potensh

So, I'm a 22 year old woman. I'm sort of teetering on the edge of true adulthood whilst still retaining many of those features that make me a teenager, those elements of me that are childlike and naïve. Sometimes I feel very lost, and when I do I tend to turn to online articles and books for enlightenment, with the hope that I may be able to relate to something I read, and that it will reassure me that despite the various difficulties of growing up, everything will be okay in the end.

I wanted to add to this body of literature, not with self-help exactly, but the things I have learnt/am currently learning as I grow into a fully-fledged human being. Hopefully this can be a regular feature if I'm learning enough new stuff every seven days - but we'll see (and yes, every post will have a photo of me staring thoughtfully into the distance, because I'm thinking about deep stuff y'know). Read on after the unicorn!

Today I want to talk about vulnerability, the act of being open to whatever life throws at you, and taking it all in. When I was growing up, I associated vulnerability with weakness. This isn't uncommon, we grow up and we are scolded for crying and the emphasis is put on being strong and brave in the face of everything, particularly for men. Sure, when you're a child (and this is coming from the perspective of having a loving childhood, I realise it's not this way for everyone) you're not totally aware of the difficulties of life. You fall to the floor when you're running and you scrape your knee, you patch it up and you've forgotten about it by the end of the day.

But then you get older and it gets more complicated than that. You experience pretty much everything life happens to throw at you, whether it is money troubles, relationship problems, mental health issues. You can't just dry your eyes, bandage yourself up and get on with things, or you can, but it might leave you feeling numb and just as lost as before. There have been many times in the past 2 years of my life where I've looked at my adult life, on its clumsy bambi legs, and thought 'Jesus, this is hard.' As an adult you have responsibility - to find a job, be good at your job, to live a fulfilling life. You're tensed up all the time, moving from one stepping stone to the other, waiting for the next success or next disappointment, learning as you go along and building up an armour. People tell us with best interests to look on the bright side, pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, even if that smile doesn't quite reach your eyes.

I don't think our society values vulnerability, because it makes people uncomfortable. You might even feel uncomfortable reading this if you know me and you can be sure I feel a bit bloody weird writing it. Life is ticking boxes, it's avoiding the bad things too, suppressing our negative voices, getting on with it. I'd always thought of life as a process of good and bad, positive and negative thoughts, a constant parallel state of being in one or the other. It's only recently that I've ever thought otherwise, realising that vulnerability might not be something to be scared of. It's so important to feel, and not classify your feelings as good or bad, but just to let them wash over you. I used to roll my eyes at the idea of just being, consigning it to hippy dippy ideology, but I think it's true. We all have parts of ourselves we want to work on, things we're working towards, things we're scared of, and that is completely okay. Sometimes we want to cry because life gets hard and that's completely okay. Don't beat yourself up for your openness or your perceived flaws. See your vulnerability within the world as the real consequence of being completely, totally alive and experiencing everything life has to throw at you.

I've understood over time that vulnerability is not cowardice, it is an act of bravery. It's the bravery to be able to feel everything, to be honest, to let your emotions, your feelings and opinions out there, to be unmistakably you. I'm not saying you should just start weeping whilst you're in the hairdresser or tell your teacher they're a jerk when the compulsion to do so rises up in your throat, it's about just accepting that you feel what you feel, and that's fine. You don't have to strive for perfect all of the time, you don't always have to buck up and be tough and push down your feelings. Life seems to favour those who have tough exteriors, but that doesn't mean that you can't be soft sometimes, that you can't take it all in instead of pushing it away.

Take the recent news story about Essena O'Neill, a very popular instagram user who has spoken out about the effects of creating yourself within a social media sphere. Essena edited all of her aspirational photos with comments about how miserable she was feeling that day, how she was sucking her stomach in, how a 'candid' shot was not candid at all. Now she's transformed her online presence, appearing on video crying, being completely honest about how this construction of perfection has made her feel. Though I think there are elements of this type of social media turnaround that need to be critiqued, it is still undoubtedly an act of vulnerability on Essena's part, sitting down in front of a camera in front of hundreds of thousands of people and saying 'actually, I'm not perfect, and pretending to be something unobtainable has had a really bad effect on me.' Her story highlights how easy it is to lose yourself, to deny yourself by only showing the good parts, particularly in the age of the branded self on social media.

I relate to this sense of a loss and denial of self. I never used to be an open person at all - I would be embarrassed by my tastes, my interests, my thoughts and my emotions. I hated the fact that music, literature or films made me feel emotions and the thought of crying in front of anyone apart from possibly my mum was the most embarrassing thing ever. Despite struggling at university, I never really informed any of my closest friends about it until much later, because of course you're scared of what they're going to think, because emotion is apparently weakness, and you have to be perfect, and you have to succeed. I was sort of like a vampire, drained of any energy, standing in front of the house of life waiting for someone to let me in.

But after a while you have to politely nudge down the door and be like 'fuck this, I'm actually the owner of this weird analogous life house and I'm going to bloody let myself in and I'm gonna absolutely experience it all for better or worse'. Like most large-scale improvements it's a gradual process, but I'm learning to accept that I'm passionate, that I'm sensitive (yes, I know I sound like this Marilyn Monroe quote, but maybe old Mazza had a point??) that I'm actually a bit goofy and painfully awkward, that I can be brutally mean to myself and compare myself to others, that sometimes I tell jokes that really aren't very funny. I'm learning to accept myself and the parts of me that I'd previously seen as unforgivable flaws. The aspiration is not to be perfect and happy all of the time because it's not feasible - the goal is to be honest and open and with that comes vulnerability. When you can accept all of you, I think it becomes a little easier to be.

Right now I'm trying to live more truthfully and that includes letting myself be vulnerable, and not holding back in any part of my life. For me it's about accepting that life with all its intricacies, ups, downs and turnarounds, and the ability to actually live and feel it completely, is pretty damn cool actually. The fact is, people appreciate vulnerability more than you think. The act of writing this post, and considering writing further posts about my various emotional and physical fuck ups is vulnerability on my part I guess.

What do you think about the prospect of vulnerability? Do you consider it a good/bad thing? If you are vulnerable how does this manifest itself in your life?

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Why Must I Always Play the Clown?

I remember having to attend many woeful children's birthday parties as a child (burgers, cake and party games are all very well but for a rather morbid and extremely shy child their attraction is limited) and there being clowns, in all their garish colours and terrifying face paint. I wouldn't say I have a fear of clowns but I can certainly see how they inspire fear in children and adults. Maybe it's the hysterical laughter, the oddly roughed cheeks, the mad eyes and the rubber nose that gives people terror. One particularly terrifying moment of my childhood was when my mum took little reluctant me to the Russian circus when it came to Oxford, and one of the skits was a clown shooting someone with a gun (not real of course). How is this entertainment for kids? Anyway, enough with the therapy session...clowns skinnydip 3
The Ronald McDonalds and Pennywises of the clown world aren't the ones I'm taking inspiration from here. I've gone for a much more old school, Pierrot style clown, that to me seems more beautiful than scary. It's more Gelsomina in La Strada, directed by Federico Fellini, which is one of my favourite films. Gelsomina is played by Giulietta Masina who has often been referred to as the female Chaplin due to her very expressive face and comedy acting. Gelsomina is probably the saddest clown you'll ever see, forced to go on the road with a rather violent strongman by her poverty-stricken family, and is subjected to physical and emotional pain along the way. It's a laugh a minute!

This nostalgia about clowns came as a result of wanting to show off these two bags I'm sharing with you today, yet more additions to my ridiculously large novelty bag collection. They are from the Skinny Dip Simpsons collection which focuses around Krusty the Clown, who I remember was one of my favourite Simpsons characters. Krusty is also a rather sad clown, relying on alcohol and gambling to keep himself entertained, so obviously the perfect candidate to be printed on some gorgeous colourful bags!
skinnydip clown 11
Bag - Skinny Dip London

I have to say this bag is probably not the most useful bag I own (I tend to have massive bags and feel the need to literally carry everything around with me) but I couldn't resist the shape and the design! If you don't watch the Simpsons this bag references the McDonalds impersonating Krusty Burger chain depicted on the show. It'll certainly be a weird addition to my evening wear!
clown skinnydip 14
Hat - Topshop
Top - Vintage
clown skinnydip 1

clown skinnydip 12
Bag - Skinny Dip London

The second bag I got was this clutch, made to look like the front of a Krusty O's cereal box. I love the weird and rather dark design, particularly the 'flesh eating bacteria' sticker!
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With these photos I was trying to emulate some sort of 'clown trick' like finding flowers in the bag, I don't know whether it worked because these flowers look very fake and we're pretty low on props in chez Rags of Love! Let's be honest, I'd be a rubbish clown anyway, I don't even have a black dot nose here.
clown skinnydip 4
Were/are you scared of clowns? Do you think I should throw in the towel on my ridiculous novelty bag addiction? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday, 18 October 2015

All Kinds of Iridescent Everything

When I first heard about the SelgasCano installation at the Serpentine Pavilion, I believe my initial reaction was to fall to my knees, raise my hands to the air and cry out 'my aestheticcccc!' A holographic tunnel complete with ribbons that lights up? That LIGHTS UP? I imagine this is what my insides look like, it's like they climbed into my brain and made the contents into art (sounds pretentious, definitely is, I imagine my inside are as fleshy as anybody else's). It is, at the very least, a perfect depiction of my imagined fairy kingdom where I would inevitably reign with an iron will of misandry and compulsory brightly coloured outfits for all. unif serpentine 1
Jumper - Unif (sadly out of stock in the UK, but check Depop and Ebay)!
Leggings - Asos
Shoes - Nike via Asos (from ages ago)

In preparation for this highly emotional journey into my aesthetic tunnel, I scoured my wardrobe - what could I possibly wear that would be the perfect complement to my iridescent surroundings? I'd just bought this Unif jumper a few weeks ago from Selfridges, and it pretty much matches all the colours in the tunnel! I don't know if you can see me but I'm actually in the above photo, just camouflaged, like a blogger chameleon.
serpentine 10
The installation was dreamt up by the Spanish architects SelgasCano because they wanted to allow the public to experience architecture with simple elements such as transparency, shadows, lightness and form. It was also partially inspired by the twists and turns of the tunnels inside the London underground. The experience of being inside the installation was truly unique, as if we had all entered and were about to be led to some other world in outer space. At the very least, it was a brilliant photo opportunity, with almost everyone whacking their cameras out and helping people around them take great photos too - a very collaborative atmosphere!
laila serpentine
unif serpentine 5
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Laila came along to help me take my outfit photos accompany me in artistic appreciation. She also turned up wearing a Christmas jumper with an ice cream on which may actually be the best thing I have ever seen. I didn't take any photos but I imagine she'll have a post up about the experience soon!
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unif serpentine collage
unif serpentine 7
The bad news is that the exhibition closes this weekend so you've pretty much missed your chance to see it, although I've heard that it's now moving across to Los Angeles. It was undoubtedly my favourite exhibition that I've seen recently (and last time I was at this gallery I waited 3 hours to get put to bed in Marina Abramovic's exhibition, so no pressure Serpentine).

Credit to Laila and a lovely Irish woman with a ridiculously nice camera for taking the pictures!


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

Hang on, I've gone properly pretentious on you - quoting a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote as this post title? After you've finished eye rolling hear me out, because I heard this quote the other day and I absolutely love it, it conjures up such a pretty image of this living breathing human earth showing off its beauty and life in carnations and the like. Anyway, here is your floral multicoloured outfit for today...ark primark 1
Coat - Charity Shop
Top - Primark
Skirt - Ark (sold out)
Shoes - Converse
Bag - Choies

Florals? For Autumn? What? I've actually thrown out all of my Victorian schoolchild Peter Pan collar dresses of old so A/W is looking pretty dayglo for me. This certainly isn't your typical Autumn look but this skirt fell out of my wardrobe the other day and I realised I hadn't worn it in a while. One of the reasons is because it's a real bum skimmer, I'm already a pretty tall lady so skirts are often an issue for me, and it's this one particularly that seems eye wateringly short. Still, with my trusty pair of safety shorts under it I was right as rain.
ark primark 5
I paired it with my Daisystreet kimono, which doesn't actually go with it at all but I do like a good pattern clash as you know. It's a pretty Summery look without my orange muppet coat, which yes, is going to be my staple coat for another season. It really has seen better days but there's no other coat I've ever found that matches it for comfort, warmth and Fozzie bear chic.
ark primark 2

ark primark 3
I'm wearing my Unif Moody glasses, a Depop purchase that I now wear constantly. I find that I have to wear sunglasses even in Autumn and Winter, I don't know whether it's because I'm more sensitive to light, but if I don't I become a real Squinty McSquinterson. These ones are the multicoloured cat eyed oversized sunglasses of my dreams and they add the cherry on top of the cake to this outfit.

This post wouldn't have been possible without the super talented and lovely Freyia taking some time out of her day to help me out with the photos, make sure to check out her beautiful lingerie creations.



Sunday, 11 October 2015

Must Be Jelly Cause Jam Don't Shake

Seeing as American Apparel have apparently registered bankruptcy, it's about time that they chose more budget options for their ad girls. Step in me, doing my own little homemade photoshoots at the foot of my bed. AA, call me any time, I'm probably free. peanut butter 5
Jumper - RAD
Socks - AA via Asos (currently out of stock)

There's two rather wonderful additions to my wardrobe that I'm showing off here (and yes, before you point it out, I am wearing shorts, Rags is a family friendly webpage). The first is this jumper from RAD, with a curious message on the front. What does it mean? You ask. Well, I used to live off of peanut butter sandwiches as a child, so this particular nut has a special place in my heart, above all the other nuts I've let into my heart. It's also a song by drag queen supreme Ru Paul, who is something of a religious figure amongst me and my friends - so this one's for you, Ru.
Peanut butter 4
The second are these thigh high socks, probably the most instantly recognisable item that AA sells. I've been mming and aahing about buying my own pair for years but never got round to it till now. I just didn't think they'd be massively practical - how could I possibly wear them? I guess there are some pieces of clothing which we all have that aren't necessarily the most useful, but when you put them on you instantly feel good. These socks are like that for me, they add an element of glamour to lounging round the house (and that is something I do exceptionally well).
peanut butter 3
I love all the primary colours of this outfit, and it makes me feel a bit like I should be in an American high school sorority or something, although we all know that if I had in fact gone to American high school I'd be My So Called Life-ing it up with a grungy wardrobe and a penchant for men with watery eyes. Even so, it's fun to pretend sometimes right?
peanut butter 2

peanut butter 1


Sunday, 4 October 2015

What is Dyspraxia?

blogging post 1

I bet you've all been wondering what my X Factor sob story truly is. Well, I think it's time to share that with you today, something I'm a little nervous about doing, to tell you the truth, but I hope that in writing about it I can possibly help some people who have had similar experiences.

What is it?

There's something Daniel Radcliffe, Florence Welch, Cara Delevingne and I all have in common, apart from stunning good looks and exceptional talent. We all suffer from dyspraxia, a condition that affects mind and body coordination. It is apparently caused by brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body, which actually sounds mildly terrifying, but for most people who suffer with a mild form, dyspraxia is just a day-to-day annoyance. It can occur in those who have had difficult births and/or suffer with autistic disorders.


Dyspraxia is a unique experience for each sufferer. It's a close cousin to dyslexia (something I also have a mild form of) so often the symptoms of these disorders overlap. More widely known as 'clumsy child syndrome', it is often picked up early on in life. For me personally, dyspraxia affects pretty much every part of my life, these are a few of the symptoms I've experienced:

- Basic tasks such as learning to tie my shoelaces (velcro shoes are the way to go), telling the time, brushing my teeth and getting dressed took me longer to get the hang of than most children.
- Terrible, terrible handwriting (which has remained awful) caused by poor pen grip.
- Poor hand dominance (i.e changing hands when using cutlery, being slightly ambidextrous)
- Classes that involved kinetic learning like art, P.E and textiles were a write off.
- Poor understanding of sequences, difficulty with following instructions
- Slow to adapt to new or unpredictable situations
- Difficulty differentiating between left and right
- Bad at structuring ideas (writing in depth blog posts like this one takes me a long time)!
- Poor spatial awareness (if I've ever stood unnervingly close to you, I'm sorry, but I'm usually not aware I'm doing it).
- Difficulty with speaking particularly in large groups
- Sensitivity to light (I have a green overlay that I use when reading, otherwise the white glare of the page hurts my eyes). This is also a symptom of Irlen syndrome.

You can find a comprehensive list of symptoms in adults here.

Some of the symptoms of dyspraxia are quite funny (because you know, sometimes you have to just laugh through the pain). I can't go to a party without spilling my drink all over myself or someone else, self-checkouts are my worst enemy, I've got a very difficult relationship with escalators, and when someone says 'let's play a drinking game' I die inside. I learnt how to ride a bike and then promptly forgot, and my sentence structures are often so peculiar that Yoda would be proud. I have actually fallen into a bath fully clothed because I lost my grip. The other day I genuinely nearly cut my finger off when using a toothbrush. It's a pretty baffling and greatly discouraging cross to bear sometimes.

Early signs

I was only diagnosed with dyspraxia in my third year of university. For years before I had felt very downcast and confused about why I seemed to be so inept at almost everything. I remember my art teacher charitably described me as 'an ideas girl, but not very good at executing them.' In a way she was right, the intention was there, and I am naturally a creative person, but I couldn't colour inside the lines, even if I tried. For pretty much all my life I had felt a lack of control over my own body, feeling immense frustration that nothing ever turned out right, that I didn't have pretty bubbly handwriting like the other kids in my class, how I was basically bottom of the class for everything apart from English and History. It's not as if I wasn't trying, but everything I did was plagued by inexpressibility, never being able to get a sentence quite right, saying words in an awkward and fumbling way, trying to write neatly and ending up with ink all over my hands with a black ink bruised page and a bruised ego.


Though dyspraxia is by no means a serious condition and it's certainly not the end of the world, the negative effects of it aren't often discussed and I think it's very important to address them. In my experience one of the saddest things about dyspraxia, and my late diagnosis of it, is that I blamed myself. It's quite common for people with learning difficulties to have low self esteem, and this is something I really struggled with. Undiagnosed dyspraxic children are apparently 5 times more likely to develop mental health problems by the age of 16 (via Guardian), which is shocking and sad. I can only guess that due to a lack of understanding of the disorder at the time that it was never detected in me, and if it had been, perhaps I could have been slightly easier on myself. I often get so frustrated at myself that I'm on the verge of tears when I can't seem to complete a basic task. This really came to a head at university, when I felt myself slip behind, finding the higher calibre of essay writing expected of me very difficult to match.

Diagnosis and problems

When I finally was able to get an assessment through my university for specific learning difficulties, it came as a relief. The lady who assessed me said that people with learning difficulties often have to create strong coping mechanisms to match up to non-sufferers. I certainly related to this, having gone through the first 18 years of my life believing that I was just stupid or lacking something that came as a given for everyone else. Though I had come out of school with good grades and a confirmed university place, it had been a real struggle trying to suppress the various ineptitudes that I felt had come to shape me.

Being diagnosed with dyspraxia so late on in my life was confusing and in some ways upsetting. Out of the people I know who also suffer from it, only one other had been diagnosed at university. Finally I could put a name to the difficulties that I had experienced, like I had this new part of my identity that I had never even realised was there. One of my university tutors commented that she had always wondered if there was something wrong and was surprised she hadn't detected it herself. Part of me felt like the education system had left me behind, that I hadn't been able to reach my full potential because of these undiagnosed issues.


If I'm being honest, most people that I told didn't really accept it. When I tell people I am dyspraxic it's often met with confused expressions, and most people either tell me that 'it's probably because you're not very confident, that's all'  or 'I don't believe in all that stuff, why do we have to put a name to everything?' For a while it was quite discouraging and made me doubt myself, maybe I was just trying to put a name to my ineptitude, to make it more acceptable? My parents met the news with bewilderment, saying that I'd always been so able. To an extent this is true, but the fact that writing an essay about Wuthering Heights seemed infinitely easier to me than playing a card game speaks volumes.

It's very easy to dismiss dyspraxia as laziness and stupidity, a perception of which I have certainly experienced. But I think it's important to recognise that dyspraxia is real, that many people suffer from it, and that it does have some very good attributes. For a start, people with dyspraxia tend to be very creative and can thrive when given the appropriate support. I may not be the most graceful person in the world (something of an understatement) but I feel like it contributes to some of the eccentricities of my personality, the ones that make me unique.

Seem familiar?

I'm writing this post now because I imagine that some of you reading may still be in school or be starting university terms. I know that for me when I first read a dyspraxia symptoms list online I was struck by how accurately it described me and my awkward, clumsy approach to basic tasks. If you're struggling at school and you think that it may be because of a learning difficulty, I would really urge you to try and get an assessment. It could mean that you're given the extra help with learning resources and extra time in exams. If my learning difficulties had been detected earlier it might have saved me a lot of grief, and though I cannot change the past, it's something that I've learnt to accept about myself. Sometimes I still feel a bit stupid when I can't master a card game or break my 15th glass, but I know deep down that it's not a fault, and that if anything I should utilise the creative benefits!


This is a list of dyspraxia resources so that you can find out more about the condition:
Dyspraxia symptoms in adults
Dyspraxia symptoms in children
Online test (these aren't meant to be taken as a diagnosis but they are a decent indication)
The dyspraxic panda meme (also acts as a helpful online resource with other sufferers)
Dyspraxic Me (who run workshops to help gain/improve valuable skills)
This Guardian article that details dyspraxia's serious effects really struck a chord with me.

I hope this was helpful or at least interesting for some of you. If you have any experiences with learning difficulties, particularly dyspraxia, dyslexia or dyscalculia, it would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments about how this has affected you.



Friday, 25 September 2015

How to get iridescent hair

I'd probably describe my hair as kind of a disaster most of the time. It took me a long time to get it to the white blonde that it is now, a terrible tale of hardship and split ends that I've told here. My goal was to be able to have a base where I could add pastel colours, which tend to be less fuss than harsh primary colours such as red and blue.
iridescent hair
As I'm sure you know, I'm something of a fan of holographic and iridescent objects, sort of like a hipster magpie (do NOT leave any luminous, colour changing artefacts around me). Though I've always been told that a successful hair dye session results in your hair being all the same colour, I've actually found that I quite like the slightly messy, varying colours look.

Iridescent hair 2
iridescent hair 3
I've found that if I combine both of my colour shampoos, it gives my hair an interesting effect, one that makes the colour slightly change at different angles. You can see here that I have white, silver, pink and purple in my hair (as well as some yucky dirty blonde as a result of my own terrible bleaching jobs).

For this I use the Fudge Violet toning shampoo, which is hands down the best purple shampoo I've ever used. It's a lot more intense than some of the other purple toning products, which works for me as I often have very stubborn yellow tones in my hair. What's even better is that you can buy huge bottles of the stuff, I get mine off of Amazon (link above).
iridescent hair 4
My other miracle product is Bleach Rose Pink shampoo, which as far as I know is the only pink shampoo on the market. This stuff is like gold dust to me (well, pink dust), it gives my hair a pastel tone which washes out super easily, so it's commitment free. I also use the conditioner (although I haven't had quite as much luck with this) on my ends.

Because my hair is already quite a few different tones of blonde, achieving iridescent hair was pretty easy for me. If you want to give the look a go you'll need white blonde hair, using a purple toner. When I'm washing my hair I combine the pink and purple shampoo together and leave on for about 5 minutes - it always works beautifully!
iridescent hair 5

Good luck with achieving holographic locks!



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