My 10 Most Popular Posts This Year

Right, let’s go straight into my 10 most popular posts out of the 37 that I’ve shoved your way this year. And because I’m not the least bit ashamed, I’ll also let you know my least popular post at the end. Just for balance.

Oh, but first please let me say THANK YOU so much for reading my blog. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it and my blog would be nothing without you all. You’re all superstars!

Click on the titles to enjoy each post.

10. A Guide to Hanging Out with Cloth Ears

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This may have been even more popular if I hadn’t published it just as a Facebook post first of all. This post runs through everything you need to know if you either want to know what it’s like to be deaf or want to know what to consider if you’re spending time with someone who is hard of hearing. Ignorance is not bliss.

9. Halloween Playlist!

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This did surprisingly well and still gets regular views today. Err guys, it’s not Halloween anymore.

8. Just Another Book Club- July Book

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My first dabble with my online book club and it went down very well. Lots of people had lots to say about this one.

7. Top 10 TV Character Fashion Idols

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This post provides a run down of all my favourite fashion icons that have ever graced our TV screens. From Denise Huxtable to Sybil Fawlty, it’s an eclectic collection.

6. Just Another Book Club

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An introduction to my idea of holding an online book club and luckily lots of people seemed to be as excited by it as I was. It also gave the list of books to read for the latter part of 2017.

5. F**KING SCOOTERS

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I stand by every word of this and I still fucking hate fucking scooters.

4. Love Your Body

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A lot of people sadly were able to relate to this. I talked about how there has been a steady increase of eating disorders in very young girls and I suggest ways we can all help to combat this.

3. Everyday Sexual Harassment

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Another post that sadly a lot of people could relate to. Whilst it was quite devastating to hear other people’s experiences, it was in some way slightly comforting to know that I am clearly not alone with my experiences of sexual harassment. This post still regularly gets daily views.

2. 10 Most Influential Albums of my Teenage Years

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This post is what you might call, a slow burner. It got moderate views when it was first published, but it receives views most days, which meant it slowly crept up my list of most popular posts.

  1. Dear Stephen

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Whilst this remains the hardest blog post that I’ve ever written, what is wonderful about this post being so popular is that so many of you lovely people read and heard about my wonderful friend. It helped make it the tribute that I wanted it to be. It would also be nice to think that it may have possibly helped someone somewhere.

The one that didn’t quite make my top ten: The Importance of Creativity for Children 3 views away from making the top 10.

My least popular post this year: Music Tag Thingy, but then again I didn’t really do a very good job of promoting it. It got a paltry 56 views- whoop.

My most popular post ever: Why Women’s Procreation Choices are None of Your Business. Nuff said.

Thanks again and see you next year for more irrelevant and irreverent shit (I really know how to sell myself, don’t I?)

 

Everyday Sexual Harassment

I’m not writing this post to garner any sympathy or advice, but in light of the recent sexual harassment revelations in Hollywood it’s so important to highlight that sexual harassment or abuse happens everyday. The majority (if not all) women will experience sexual harassment or abuse more than once in their life. Here’s a list of a handful of times that I have been sexually harassed to illustrate this.

  • The time a man walked past me on the street in broad daylight and grabbed both of my breasts and squeezed them.
  • The time a colleague in a meeting told all the other men in that meeting (our clients) that a video of me being “ragged” was available on YouTube for them to watch (I’ve seriously no idea what he was trying to achieve here, but it left an awful atmosphere in the room).
  • The time I was eating my lunch at my desk and that same colleague told me he loved seeing my mouth wrap round a sausage and then continued to sit and stare.
  • The time he said something suggestive to me when we were alone in a lift.
  • The time he whispered something suggestive again in my ear, so no one else could hear.
  • The time I finally complained to my male supervisor about this colleague and I was told that he was sure it was just a bit of “banter” and nothing else was done about it.
  • The time a group of men much larger than me tried to intimidate me on the street in broad daylight, in the middle of a city and I had to literally jump into the road to avoid them and they all walked off laughing.
  • The numerous times I’ve had sexual insults shouted at me by groups of men in cars or vans.
  • The time a man I did not know called me a slut as I walked past him in the street, minding my own business for no apparent reason.
  • The time when I was 19 years old and worked in a sandwich shop and my boss called me a “slapper” in front of a shop full of customers and colleagues. Later, when the deputy manager pulled him up on it he said that “I loved it”. Readers, I did not.
  • The time a man that I did not know, shouted out of a window that I was slag. I was walking with my boyfriend at the time.
  • The time I was forced against a wall at a tube station and had my sexuality questioned. This man then proceeded to follow me on the tube telling me everything that he would do with my body.
  • The time when I was 15 years old and I was flashed at by an older man masturbating on the street.
  • The time a man came up to be on the street, again in broad daylight and rubbed his crotch against me and when I turned around he showed me his erection.
  • And not forgetting the times that I have lost count of, when I have been groped in a nightclub or bar when walking past a group of men and the assailant would be safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have a clue who did it as the place would be so crowded.

Interestingly, only one of these assaults happened at night time. All the rest were done during the day and usually in busy places.

Here’s the most shocking thing of all. My story is not unique. I don’t just happen to be “unlucky”. In every case I was not flaunting myself or my body (though even if I was it still would not excuse or welcome an attack). My story is like so many other women’s stories. I know there will be women reading this and nodding along, thinking “Yep, me too, sister. Me too”.

Here’s how these sexual assaults made me feel:

  • violated
  • vulnerable
  • afraid
  • shaken
  • angry
  • humiliated
  • frustrated
  • emotional
  • so fucking scared
  • it made me feel that these men are trying to put me in my place
  • that these men are trying to make me feel like I am nothing but a sexual toy
  • that these men are trying to make me feel worthless

And in all honesty, after some of these incidences they have made me feel a bit worthless, but in the long term, luckily for me it has not worked. Sadly, that can’t be said for every woman who has been sexually harassed or abused.

The reality is that sexual harassment prevails throughout society. It does not discriminate against background, race, age, sexuality, size and so on. Your daughter, mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, friends, colleagues, that really nice woman that just served you in a shop, that lovely nurse who helped you heal, that fantastic teacher who is great with your child- ALL have been sexually harassed. Women have been sexually harassed and may not even realise they have. It is a huge problem within society.

I don’t have any clever or innovative solutions, but I do know we all need to stand up and stand against it as a society. I disagree with some people saying we don’t need men to speak up for us. We really do. It is something we should ALL be doing. Together. As PEOPLE we should be shocked and disgusted and unapologetically vocal about it.

Incidentally, my post hasn’t talked about the times I’ve experienced general sexism, but then we’d be here all bloody night if I listed those times.

I only reported two of the above incidents to the police. I probably should have reported more, but it was the incident with the man rubbing his crotch against me that I thought “no more”. I wouldn’t hesitate to report an incident again.

I’ll leave you with this thought. As I said, most of the assaults I experienced happened during the day with people surrounding me. If anyone had noticed what happened to me and vocally stood by me, how much would this help society combat sexual harassment? I’m not blaming anyone who noticed and didn’t say anything, the blame heavily lands on the assaulter, but would it make the assaulter think twice about doing it if he was bombarded by people speaking up and not putting up? We do also need to look at why people feel the need to harass at all. It would be nice (understatement of the year) if sexual harassment wasn’t a problem in the first place.

I actually really struggled to find basic information on the internet about sexual harassment and how to deal with it (which is a worry and a reflection of how much it is just generally accepted), but Rape Crisis have given some excellent advice here.

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Candles with a Conscience

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Photo courtesy of SevenSevenSeventeen

Right at this moment, I have the most glorious smell wafting through the air near me. I’m burning a Hello Calm Moroccan Rose candle by SevenSevenSeventeen and the smell is devine. However, I’m not just here today to bang on about lovely smelly candles and nasal pleasure (which I do have a weakness for). These scented candles have a conscience, as £1 from every candle sold goes to the PANDAS charity. PANDAS is a charity that provides advice and support for people affected by pre/antenatal and post natal depression. PANDAS relies heavily on volunteers, so any support they receive is essential for their continuing service.

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Perinatal depression (depression that can occur either during pregnancy or in the first year following birth) affects 1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 men. That’s right, it’s not just women that it affects. Perinatal depression is different form the baby blues. It is more serious and is long term.

Symptoms include:

  • feeling tearful or low
  • lack of energy
  • extreme changes in appetite
  • feeling worthlessness, guilty or emotionally numb.
  • lack of or too much sleep
  • lack of interest in sex
  • difficulty concentrating
  • lack of interest in the baby

PANDAS provides a helpline, email support team and local support groups across the UK. They also have separate Facebook groups for both Mums and Dads. All volunteers that work with PANDAS have lived in experience of perinatal mental health illness.

SevenSevenSeventeen have joined up with PANDAS and have produced these lovely candles to help raise money for the cause. Their candles are made from natural ingredients (if that’s a concern of yours) and hand-poured in England. They’re an affordable luxury range of candles and with a starting price of £14, I’d agree this isn’t a bad price at all for these lovely candles that definitely have a luxury feel (most luxury candles are about £30+). They have seven different fragrances, each with a different purpose or “mantra”.

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The delivery of them was very quick and come in a nice box. The candle is in brown glass and comes with a screw on lid. They would make a lovely gift for someone or just as a treat for yourself.

Last week, it was Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week , which helps raise awareness of “the most common complication of childbirth”. The campaign encourages people to ask women who are pregnant/have just given birth, how they are feeling. Thus encouraging women and giving them a chance to open up and talk. In my previous post here, I talked about the importance of opening up and talking to someone (anyone) if you have PND.

SevenSevenSeventeen candles are a great way to support a fantastic cause at the same time as giving yourself a little treat. The link for their website it here.

PANDAS Helpline: 0843 28 98 401

PANDAS Email support: info@pandasfoundation.org.uk

***Since first writing this article, SevenSevenSeventeen have now also teamed up with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). CALM is a charity dedicated to preventing male suicide. £1 from every candle sold from SevenSevenSeventeen‘s men’s range brilliantly goes to CALM.

CALM Helpline: 0800 58 58 58 or click here to start a web chat with them***

DISCLAIMER: I have not been paid to write this article. I wrote this post to help promote a worthy cause and a great company.

Love Your Body

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As my friend looked down at her perfect little 5 year old daughter, she noticed she was squeezing her thighs. She looked up with concern in her eyes. “Mummy” she said “I’m worried that I’m going to get fat. I don’t want my thighs to get any bigger and I think my tummy is a bit fat too”. So just to remind you, when my friend’s daughter said this, she was 5 years old. 5.

My friend recalled the sick feeling she felt and how suddenly her heart started to beat hard. Whilst, this may have just been a flippant, passing comment, it filled her and me in turn, with dread and sadness. My three biggest fears I have for my daughter? Her safety, being bullied and eating disorders.

Why at 5 years old should a girl’s body shape be of concern to her? Why is she already thinking negatively about her body? And where has she got this attitude from?

In 2011, a report showed that out of 2,000 children treated for eating disorders, 98 were aged between 5-7 years (99 were aged between 8-9 years, 400 aged between 10-12 years and 1,500 aged between 13-15 years). There is as could be predicted, a larger number of girls affected than boys. Nine times as many girls were admitted than boys. The increase of children admitted to hospital with eating disorders from 2003 to 2013 was 172%. More than 90% of them were young girls. This isn’t reflective of what is truly going on as most people with eating disorders are treated in outpatient or private clinics and of course, some people aren’t treated at all. Therefore, the number of children with eating disorders is greater than what we see in reports.

So, this begs the question, what has caused this and what can we do about the disturbing increase of eating disorders in young women and children?

This article in the Guardian, suggests it is children’s exposure to the body images of celebrities. Dr Colin Michie, the chairman of the nutrition committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, blamed the constant availability of these images to children has increased eating disorders in them.

Social media can also be blamed. Young people are frequently posting images of themselves on social media for people to “like”. This constant need for the approval of their physical self can create an obsession with their body image, that in some cases could lead to eating disorders.

In 2015, the BBC reported that there was a sharp increase of schoolgirls at risk of emotional problems (where as boys’ risk remained stable). The Scientists behind the study reported that one of the reasons behind this is “a drive to achieve unrealistic body images perpetuated by social media and an increasing sexualisation of young women.” 

The only positive aspect to the increase in cases reported is that maybe either more people are seeking help for their disorder or doctors are quicker or better at diagnosing it.

As a child, I never thought about my body shape. I was never concerned with the size of my stomach or shape of my legs. As a teenager, whilst I was obviously more conscious of my body and it’s never-ending changes (and now in my 40s, it’s still changing!), I never gave much thought to my body shape and certainly nothing ever came between me and my love for food (and here I am 20 odd years later and still food is seemingly my top priority. After my daughter of course. Maybe).

So, what was the key factor in my attitude towards my own body as child and teenager? The obvious answer could be, as mentioned above, that there was no social media in my youth and less obsession with celebrities’ bodies. Whilst there was some discourse surrounding famous women’s bodies, it was never at the disturbing levels we see today. I don’t ever remember articles in my Mum’s magazines shaming women about their bodies.

However, I firmly believe the main reason I had a healthy body image was because of my own Mother. I don’t ever remember her complaining about her body or putting herself down. The word “diet’ was never uttered by her. I only remember her once mentioning wanting to exercise more. Also, she never compared her body to other women’s bodies or even complimented other women’s bodies. In fact, once on holiday I remember my brother and I teasing my Mum about her ‘spare tyre’ and my Mum just shrugging and laughing it off. I know, we sounded like such lovely & charming children. The point is my Mum was so outwardly comfortable in her own skin and at ease with her body shape, we could crack these kind of jokes around her. It’s worth noting that my Mother equally encouraged me to clear my dinner plate as much as my brother was and I was congratulated when I did so.

Also, I  remember my Mum telling me that she loved her stretch marks on her stomach as they were a reminder of her children and what her marvellous had body achieved.

This is a solid point. Women’s bodies should be celebrated and not shamed. Why are people more willing to do the latter than the former? Whether it’s with regards to other people’s bodies or their own? Why don’t we hear of more New Year’s resolutions about accepting and loving our bodies rather than depriving or punishing them?

From reading and researching various articles on eating disorders in young children and through my own personal experiences, I’ve compiled a list of possible ways to prevent eating disorders in young children.

1. Avoid talking about your own weight and dieting.  As mentioned above. It’s a non-brainer. What we vocalise in the home has a huge impact on young ears. Also, when we treat ourselves to a slice of cake, can we stop saying “ooh I know it’s naughty”. Cake is not naughty, it’s bloody delicious. Life is hard, eat the cake. Guilt free.

2. Don’t tease a girl about their body and/or weight. Up to 40% of girls are teased and this can double their risk of being overweight and causing eating disorders.

3. Have plenty of sit down family meals. This one is not always possible everyday, but it’s worth bearing in mind that as parents we are role models and our eating habits can influence our children’s. Personally, I fail doing this in the week, but Friday-Sunday, we always make this obligatory.

4. Explain that images of women in media are unrealistic. We should protect our children from society’s emphasis on body shape and weight. I adore the women on social media who portray their bodies realistically. The model Charli Howard who is the founder of the All Woman Project is a fantastic role model for young women. She describes herself as a body positive activist and her Instagram account features numerous realistic and untouched photos of her showing off her lumps, bumps and cellulite. She actively encourages women to learn to love all of their ‘squishy bits’ and how normal the imperfect body is. She openly talks about the misery that starving her body to be a size 6 brought her in the past and her All Woman Project works with schools running events and workshops for young girls. Another great role model for younger girls is the radio DJ Lilah Parson, who has a refreshing and healthy attitude towards her body and food. When asked recently if she was content with her body, she answered “Yes, I’m very content. I know what clothes work for my body and I’m happy and healthy. We don’t all have to look like Victoria’s Secret models. We put far too much pressure on ourselves” When she was asked what she liked about her body, she was easily able to list a few things. When she was asked to list what she didn’t like, she just answered that she tries not to be negative about her body. How wonderful to hear a young woman talk confidently about her body and with absolutely no shame. This is how it should be. In fact, women like Charli and Lilah aren’t just role models for young women, they’re role models for all women.

5. Never mention if you think a celebrity or person has a good body. This can encourage a child or young woman to compare their body with the so-called ideal body shape and it also compounds the idea that a woman’s body shape or weight is imperative to their self worth.

Recently, a documentary film has been made about women’s body called Embrace (more information about this film can be found here). This is the word I have always used in association with becoming happy with one’s body. We should all embrace our bodies for what they are. Whatever their shape, size, colour, abilities or disabilities are.

For all of us to try and achieve the homogenised “ideal” body shape is utterly ridiculous, a waste of time and energy and downright dangerous.

I know too many women that have suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. I guarantee that if a woman hasn’t suffered from an eating disorder they will know more than one woman that has. And now, we are witnessing an increase in eating disorders in children, this madness, this attitude towards are own bodies HAS to stop.

Love your body, it’s the only one you’ll ever get. Love your bumps, your lumps, its imperfections. Embrace your body, not just for yourself, but for our all the little girls who will grow up to be beautiful women, whatever their shape.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Charli Howard:

“This can be the year that you choose to kick old habits; this can be the year you embrace your true shape, stop giving a shit about dieting and calories and choose to be happy. Eat what you want, love your squishy bits, step away from the scales (and bad boys) and don’t let anyone or anything make you feel you’re less than perfect. I’m off to cook a hearty roast dinner with my family because I don’t give a fuck about my weight anymore and neither should you bad bitches”.

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Image courtesy of the All Woman Project