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!
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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!
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Hat - Topshop
Top - Vintage
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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.
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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!

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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.
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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!
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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
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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!

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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.
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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.
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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.

Thanks!

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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.
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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).
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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?
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Sunday, 4 October 2015

What is Dyspraxia?

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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.

Symptoms


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.

Effects 


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.

Reactions


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!

Resources 


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.

Thanks!

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