Satisfying outcome

Getting my advertising hat on for a second...there are a lot of good campaigns. There are a lot of great campaigns. And then there are the ads that you just love. 
This campaign really brightens my day every time I see it. Even though the guy at the front looks a bit like Jude Law and I'm not a fan, the warmth of the colours bring an instant smile to my face. It serves as a good reminder of why, before all the louts in wifebeaters got their hands on it, Stella was chic. 
And because I have a strange obsession with the woman in the adverts. 
Unlike previous Stella girls, she's not a semi-naked blonde pin-up. She's not in an excessively revealing dress or killer heels. She's not staring wistfully/sensually at the man. Sure, she may still be associated as a pleasant side effect of drinking Stella, but this isn't the traditional woman of chauvinist ads. 
Maybe I'm reading too much into this. But there's something about the look in her eyes, the nonchalant pose, the awkward way her knee is locked and the fact that they obviously painted this awkwardness in deliberately. The fact that she's in (no longer on-trend) sensible shoes and a bright, bold, Sixties dress that is either a total turn-on or a massive turn-off. The fact that she's drawing attention to herself but challenging you to meet her eyes, not stare at her legs. And the fact that she's just a little bit Peggy. Who knew that a product that seems so blatantly aimed at men could produce an ad that so empowers women?
(Image from here.)


I'm still here

I know, I know....I've been rubbish recently. Trying to organise moving house, and trying to juggle the workload of several holidaying colleagues makes for a bad blogger.
So while I get my s*** together, here's a little light music.


How do you look?

Because I get to spend a large portion of my day with one toe dipped delicately in the social media pool (this is a diplomatic way of me saying I spend way too much time on Twitter) I spotted this tweet earlier today.
"@drivingequality: Has disordered eating for women and girls become the norm, as entrenched behaviour patterns are now acceptable? "

This was particularly interesting considering I'd just tweeted a comment about whether it was weird to consider a friend saying you're looking really thin a massive compliment.
I was having a conversation with a medic friend of mine earlier in the day. She been reading this blog, and spotted a couple of the outfit posts below. Combining a comparison of these photos with ones of me about a year ago with her medical training, she quizzed me, seeming genuinely worried, about my health.
Now, in case you didn't notice, I've been banging on about the media's warped attitude to dieting for a good while now. The hypocrisy of a magazine printing an article encouraging women to drop to around 500 calories a day in the quest for the perfect bikini body while lambasting the recent skeletal girl who walked for Lanvin has put me right off them. But, it would seem, I'm not immune to their influence. For when said caring friend started expressing genuine concern over how much weight I've lost since she last saw me (nearer 2 stone in a year and a half), I couldn't help but feel a little thrilled. The last time she saw me in person, I was just finishing university, almost two years ago. I was around a UK Size 14. I was massively unhappy (for reasons aside from my weight) and genuinely despised what I saw in the mirror.

Now, a year and a half later, after dropping two dress sizes and two stone, do I feel any better?

Well, yes and no. Because where previously there was a demon on my shoulder saying 'lose weight', now there's the, arguably, far more destructive demon saying two things: 'keep it off, you can't get fat again' and 'imagine how much better you'll look if you lose a bit more'. Now, I'm not here to belittle the daily struggle that people with actual eating problems have. But, as my concerned friend rightly said, I do agree that it sounds like I'm treading the fine line. And again, whose fault is that?

We all know that beauty magazines are bad for your health, because they encourage us to hound women for putting on weight or losing too much of it while singing the praises of living on nothing but baby food or celery in the same breath. As I once said in a letter to Grazia, the public who demand the removal of Size Zero models while making snide comments about Tyra Banks putting on weight are in no position to criticise the media for doing the same, but you have to wonder who started it. The playground bullies did, but it's the playground bullies who grew up to control the press that are causing the real problems now.
Case in point - everyone's favourite champion of self-esteem, the Daily Mail, who recently pitted Kate Moss' world-conquering physique against that of supposedly 'normal' women to prove a point. I won't give them any more space on my blog but I recommend you read the most recent post on We Mixed Our Drinks for exactly why their recent headline 'Why Do We Women Hate Our Bodies' is quite so hypocritical.

I've spoken before about how I consider my appearance as armour, but it's often a defence mechanism against what is apparent - that I am not the type that men have been programmed to find attractive, and what's worse, the type that women believe is attractive. We are the reason we hate our bodies.

And the problem is that we've lost respect for them. Instead of treasuring our bodies, we resort to punishing them when they, and we, aren't perfect. And because we've be conditioned to believe in perfection, we'll take any method, however unconventional, to maintain said perfection. Said behaviour patterns are simply a testament to how hard we have to work in this quest for perfection. A 174 calorie lunch is not an act of stupidity. It's a stepping stone to slimness. And to destruction.
And it was thanks to a conversation this evening with another friend that I came to realise exactly why we hate our bodies. So it saves us from the surprise of someone else hating it.

EDIT - But wait! It goes on! Apparently it's not the fault of an industry whose job it is to convince people they need to look a certain way, it's the fault of a social networking site! How very original! 


Contented Flame

Couple of outfit posts from the last few days...
Naturally, badass new hairdo needs to crack out the badass Christopher Kane for Topshop dress. I never used to like Christopher Kane because he was massively overhyped, but I did love his animal t-shirts (and his way with galaxy prints). I remember how this dress sold out in every store in London but Bristol had loads left on the shelves. We weren't quite so cool in the south-west.
Colour Block Monday came back round again. With a bright red top and a bright orange skirt, and my hair, I looked like a flame.
The last thing I bought before my shopping drought began...though most of my first paycheck will be sensibly put towards bills and deposits, I used a small portion to buy something I've wanted for a while - some Docs. And not just any Docs...Union Flag Docs.


Poetry in motion

The Times have finally started to engage their client base in a more tech-savvy way (get me with my marketing slang) by implementing the 'Tweetbeat', where, in a similar style to Grazia (who for all their faults are pretty good at social) they tweet a question to their followers and print the best answers. 
A few weeks ago the question was 'our favourite fashion moment on film. There were a lot of conventional ones - Atonement, Grease and Pretty Woman to name but a few. Mine snuck in there, I think, on the grounds of being a bit unusual. 

Hero - speaks for itself. 


Guard of the Hawk

Just wanted to show off my new 'do...


Spring Palette

I'm giving up shopping again for Lent so I'm going to have to get inventive.
Nothing new here, just some good new colour combinations. I think it was Gucci that did that great colour combination that Freja modelled in UK Vogue this February of purple and green. It's not very Joan and it's certainly not very Peggy, but it's definitely got merit. I must have written off SS11 too easily. It's got potential.



I'm not gonna lie - though I consider myself of refined tastes, loving good poetry, fine wine and folk music, there are times when a bit of grimy hip-hop (or whatever the hell genre this is) is all you need.

The haters couldn't get to where I am with a full tank of petrol.


A storm in a teacup

So, you would have to have been living under a rock not to have known how very in vogue it is for celebrities to get caught on camera saying offensive things. The world went into meltdown when Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic side got a good ol' public airing, and the exposure of his horrendous drunken phonecalls to his ex-partner only fanned the flames. Everyone's favourite trainwreck Charlie Sheen is in similarly hot water for...well, I'm not even sure WHAT he's done this time. 
And then, the issue of celebrities not being able to control themselves when under the influence became shockingly clear when famed maverick designer and flamboyant enfant terrible of British fashion, John Galliano, was caught on camera doing a Mel Gibson. 
In the video (which I recently brought myself to watch on The Sun's website and now feel like I need to bleach my eyeballs - because of The Sun, not Galliano) he is seen verbally abusing the hapless tourists who are quite clearly disturbing his nice civilised piss-up in a cosy cafe, referring in no uncertain terms to the Holocaust, Hitler, and the Jews. Y'know, those three buzz-topics that you just don't mention (unless, as Ricky Gervais observed, it's in relation to winning an Oscar. Incidentally, when are they going to make a biopic of Hitler?)
The cyclone began. Rumours surfaced of arrests, of suspension from Dior, and then, mid-Fashion Week season, a sacking of Galliano from his prestigious post as Head Designer at Dior. Then, probably poked very hard in the back by her new benefactors, Natalie Portman, the new face of Miss Dior - Cherie (which, incidentally, I'm wearing today) stepped up to the plate to condemn Galliano's remarks.The designer himself has made a public apology and asserted that he will be getting help to deal with his problems. 
The aftershocks are still resonating - every magazine under the sun will cover this in upcoming issues, and magazine Twitter accounts continue to publish 'Breaking News' stories about four hours after the rest of us are done talking about it. The dark angel of British fashion has fallen, and his wings have left streaks across the sky. 
And supposedly, they've landed Dior in serious trouble. 
Now, let's make this very clear - I am in no way in support of what Galliano said while, by all accounts, severely intoxicated. But I think there are a few keys things that need to be considered here before we all congratulate ourselves on condemning him. 
First, he was drunk. Yes it's an excuse as old as time, but what you say when intoxicated is not always a reflection of how you would behave otherwise. 
Secondly, he was, himself, being harassed. Put it this way - if you were sitting alone in a nice quiet restaurant, enjoying a bottle of wine after, no doubt, another day's hard work making magic happen at one of the world's most celebrated design houses, and some people at the table next to you start asking inane questions and videoing you, what would you do? Yes, I acknowledge that you'd probably be gracious and politely ask them to leave you alone, but factor in alcohol and a reputation as being a bit of a wild card, and who knows how you might have responded? (I refer to a hilarious piece of Youtube footage that circulated a few weeks ago showing a drunken teenager verbally abusing a carriage-full of burly blokes on a night train).
Sure, these are pretty thin arguments in defence of what he said. Especially as he said it to strangers. 
So let's move on to the second argument - was Dior right to fire him? 
Well, in the short term, yes. Having a loose canon who maliciously hisses racial slurs when under the influence is not good PR. But neither is dropping the designer who basically made you into one of the most exciting and innovative fashion houses of the last decade. 
Galliano, like McQueen and Westwood, lives to make outlandish statements both on and off the catwalk. I'm sure he's not the sort you'd invite home to meet your grandma, but he sure as hell is the person I'd want at the head of my fashion empire if I wanted to make big things happen. Exuberant off the catwalk as much as he expresses on it, he's one of the greatest things to happen to British fashion and I think Dior will regret this decision. I imagine, if they have any sense, they will hire him back once the buzz has died down. 
No? You don't think a man who has, admittedly, been shrouded in controversy like this before, deserves a second chance? 
Let's bear in mind Mr Gibson. And then (I hate to sully my blog with his name but I'm proving a point) Ashley Cole, who has time and time again proved to be not only scum of the earth but stupid, most recently demonstrated by his accidental shooting of a student. And then his vile little ex Cheryl, who rose from chavvy, criminally convicted squalor to national treasure in a few short years. Lesser people than Galliano have done far worse and been let off. And yes, the old adage of celebrities getting off lightly should come into play here, and again, I assert that he should pay for what he did. But if the media, the fashion pack, and Dior, allow one of the greatest designers in recent times to be damned forever for this episode, it'll not only be a travesty, it'll be a tragedy. 


The power of red

What is the human fascination with the colour red?
I've started watching True Blood again from the beginning, and while the series itself makes light work of the regular appearance of blood, the early promotional material made sure that there was only one colour we associated with the sex'n'violence theme of the show.
I dyed my hair again tonight, a new dye with an additional vial of colour enhancer that transformed the relatively benign liquid into something that looked exactly like blood. It was slightly creepy, but in a weird primal way, it felt incredibly.
I've called red lipstick warpaint before. It must be a throwback to the animal instinct to brand oneself with the blood of an enemy. Or, as red lipstick is also a mark of allure, to the rising bloodflow of desire - I'm thinking of how Natalie Portman's character in Black Swan daubs red lipstick onto her sweet virginal mouth in an attempt to seduce and inspire courage in herself.
I make a habit of wearing a series of black items with a splash of colour somewhere about my person, be it just my hair or a statement piece of jewelry. But when I want to make a statement, I wear red lipstick. It's a power thing, as every girl-power moment in films will testify. It gives the wearer a feeling of allure, of superiority, of maturity and power. It makes them untouchable but it is designed to draw attention. Like in the picture above, it draws attention to the mouth. Whether that's to words of an argument or to a coy smile doesn't matter. I just know that when I need to put on armour, to feel strong and untouchable, I wear red lipstick.
And this comes just as I discover that my favourite red lipstick ever (Cherry by No7) appears to have been phased out.
Edit - panic over nothing: Cherry is not being phased out, just not stocked in a few places. I've discovered a lovely new red by Maybelline that's more glossy than most lipsticks I go for, making it long-lasting and moisturising as well as bright. And it's called 'Pleasure Me Red', which, I'm not going to lie, is part of the reason why I bought it.