Wednesday, July 01, 2015

I was innocently perusing my Twitter timeline yesterday and stumbled upon this trending topic; #BeingFemaleInNigeria. I immediately stalked the # conversation as I was intrigued to see what issues Nigerian women chose to raise awareness of & was hit by a trend; females tweeted seriously about gender inequality in the justice system, professional and domestic spheres, while the males mockingly tweeted about the financial implications of dating a Nigerian woman, marrying one, or cheating with one. Yes, being a Nigerian female sounded like a burden from females' accounts of injustice with child-rearing, social expectations & treatment from their female peers/ male counterparts. Finally, I wasn't alone in my pubescent whining!  I remember endless heated debates with Nigerian males who can't understand why I believed our culture wrongly denoted praise to men. In their eyes, women were rightly praised at any given event for holding down the fort. I begged to differ. 
Turban & Dress : Designed and sewn by me (DIY)
Domestic: From birth, females are socialised different. Females are taught the domestic basics, to be smart academically but more importantly, with their heart. I remember a cousin who'd successfully completed a Masters degree overseas & had also been proposed to weeks before graduation, being commended on "leaving the UK with the REAL certificate" (marriage certificate). Men could argue that they are not immune from the same pressure to lock down a wife, but be real, that only comes on or after your 30's. Imagine being subliminally coached on your marriage suitability your whole life; cooking, cleaning, aesthetic appeal...it's exhausting! Don't get me started on what ensues after you jump the broom; pressure to give birth. The countdown begins once he's proposed even. The trend is to be with child ON your wedding day! That obviously poses threats to early marital bliss, but in Nigeria, a woman is blamed if a man cheats so yet again it's a lose-lose.  
Academic/ Professional: just forget it! If you're smart? Dumb it down! This is a universal concept. Women's book smart is frowned upon. Go to Stanford, Yale or Oxford for all they care...if you're not married by 30, it has all been in vain. Heaven forbid you aspire to become a Doctor without first bearing a ring beforehand! Your mother will cry to Amadioha questioning where she erred as a parent, or what sin she's being punished for. The crux of the matter is, the man is the public mouthpiece, brain, balls, backbone...everything...of the home. PUBLICLY! The truth is, women are the root and source. Many women break their backs to see their children through school, yet it's the man's back who's tapped to commend their good work upon graduation. 
Watch : Guess | Peeptoe Lace-Up Wedge Boots : Primark | Bag : ZARA
Sexuality: Yes, I will discuss it. You're expected to wear makeup, don only the best hair (even remember in primary school it was all about what braid trends you rocked on a weekly basis?), wear designer clothes and accessories, and werq the baddest body in the game. You should attract male attention, and pander to the whims of the men you date (yes, plural), yet still keep your v-card intact & never cry rape. Even when you're sexually harassed because a man inevitably found you attractive, as was intended, you're supposed to take it all in your stride. BS! GTFOH! I vividly remember defending females TO females who brandished all rape victims as the cause for being sexually alluring to begin with. "It was her fault. She should know better than to hang around X". Funny how their tones changed once I humanised the situation by using their sister as an example. 
"Perhaps it is time to debate culture. The common story is that in 'real' African culture, before it was tainted by the West, gender roles were rigid and women were contentedly oppressed." Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

#BeingFemaleInNigeria

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Went to watch Mad Max this weekend and it was everything I envisioned and more. Aside from my fave, Tom Hardy playing lead alongside Charlize Theron, it had all the action, undercover romance & minimal scripting I need in a 'leave-your-brain-at-home' action flick. But you all know me far too well to think even a gun-guzzler of a film like Mad Max could keep me from seeking deeper directorial connotations and subliminal moral messages, surely. So in true BLEURGH review fashion, here are a few themes I picked out & I think are well worth sharing with you all.
Jacket : Klass Collection | Bodysuit : AQAQ | Midi Skirt : River Island 
INSANITY: I mean, this can't be a spoiler as its in the title itself; Mad Max. Max states in the opening scene that he "runs both from the living and the dead", yet in the same breath, questions "who was crazy? Me or everyone else?". I ask myself the same question (hold off calling the men in white coats please) as I observe modern culture. Society is racing so fast past the boundaries that the line between right and wrong is so blurred, I can't fathom its existence. Insanity or madness requires one to act so far from the norm that actions are deemed irrational, but as the plot thickens, viewers come to realise Max's actions are merely in defence against what's thrust at him. "If you can't fix what's broken, you'll go insane". Max may be nuts but he is right. When push comes to shove, we are all "reduced to one instinct; SURVIVE".
POWER: As one wife chimes "we are not things!" post-fleeing from captivity where livelihood is dictated by an obese megalomaniac, I force myself to remain seated and not join in mid-chant. The world's obsession with power has been on blast lately, from bribery & corruption to siphoned refunds to the preoccupation with oil in foreign soil, the ineptness of  leaders is blindingly evident when the allure of the coin is involved. All at the expense of the marginalised whose livelihoods, rights & whatever else is infringed without much regard on a daily basis. The hunger and thirst of the masses worldwide was perfectly depicted in Mad Max! The diseased population thrusting forward to taste just a drop of water from the momentary waterfall controlled by the King was heartbreaking as he proclaimed "I am your redeemer! It is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world". We need a solution; A revolution.
Watch : Guess | Heels : Red Herring (Debenhams)
HOPE: "praying [to] anyone who's listening" The Dag. Enroute to  "redemption", you can't help but feel like you're banging at a vacant door. Feeling lost, confused, angry? That's all natural. Sometimes it's natural to even give up - "Hope is a mistake" Max - Just don't stay there. Don't dwell in the confusion, get up and try again. At times, that rehashed plan may even mean revisiting one of old, but following it through with conviction. You're better equipped to deal with the obstacles, hurdles, distractions & naysayers. You've been down this route before, so use that to your advantage and strike again...this time, HOT! 
"I live. I die. I live again" Nux - Mad Max

Mad Max

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

When you're drowning in a sea of disappointment, dread and dead-ends, you can't help but shut the world out semi-consciously. It starts with the subtle declines to social events. Then follows the contact avoidance of your nearest and dearest. In a bid not to cause any discomfort to others, you've left yourself without the basic social comforts of a loving and supportive network at your darkest time.
Hat : ASOS | Bardot Ankara Top : DIY (originally dress from Lagos) | Jeans : New Look
You find yourself wallowing in self-pity, pining for a confidant to purge to, yet nothing but echoes follow. By turning others down time and again, you've left yourself isolated. What initially felt like you were saving them (and yourself) from awkward conversations about the same dire sitch, has turned to a retrograde to foetal life of lonesomeness.
What's inevitably happened is you've bruised a few egos and/or inserted "no" as your default response. By refusing to open up about what's hurting, you felt you were doing them a favour by not boring them. Instead, you shut out those who truly care about you. I'd always thought it was selfish for another to just want to know for the sake of it, but opening up cultivates a connection of trust, vulnerability, and loyalty.
Watch : Michael Kors
Remaining closed off sends relationships to nowhere but the grave, and in order to revive it, it takes an organic willingness to put oneself out there & be vulnerable. What will germinate is a blossoming union unlike the past. The weed is one's nature. For the emotional-introverts, the prospect of opening up to another is worrying. Having boarded up the routes to feelings, grooming that atmosphere again seems somewhat alien. Threats of old weasel their way into one's present & you're catapulted to past hurts. Life is pregnant with risk, reason and redemption. Quite like The Matrix, you're never quite sure what hand you're dealt, but nothing's gained living a life on the fence always wondering "what if?" Take a risk, and learn valuable lessons. 
"All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance" Edward Gibbon

Retro-Grade

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"The difference between an opportunity and an obstacle is your attitude. Your faith has to be greater than your fear." @Women_Of_Christ.
We all go through challenges in life that just won't budge. You try this arena and that avenue to no avail, and just when you decide to throw in the towel, God bucks up and throws you a bone. This "bone" allows you to envision greater depths than the four walls of your kennel & gives you the energy shot of a lifetime to propel yourself higher than Cruft's highest hurdle. 
Photographer: Amaksy* (online alias)
Top : Thrifted | Skirt : Karen Millen | Sandals : Market (Nigeria) | Bag : ZARA
It's interesting to note that your position essentially hasn't changed, but your mindset has dramatically. Altering one's mindset allows you to view challenges positively, and refuels you to conquer it with the mentality that you CAN succeed.  Just that small change can be the weight on the scale that tips things in your favour. I believe that everything we do, and everyone we meet, are a result of a divine purpose. There are no accidents, but just lessons on how exactly to overcome each hurdle. Notably, one doesn't experience the same level of difficulty if faced with the same test, and can better advise others experiencing the same too. 
Bower House Estate, Essex
Admittedly, it's easier said than done. Life has a way of hitting us with bad news, blow after blow. It's difficult to not feel defeated when you're down to your last energy bar, and feel as though your hope/dream is a figment of a whimsical imagination. You can't help but laugh at yourself for ever believing such were possible. And THAT's when the bone is thrown. As a Christian, I'm slowly learning that the earlier feeling is a result of a spiritual war waged against me, challenging my faith. The ray of hope is God advocating on my behalf & interceding to save me. The trick is not solely depending on a miracle to the point you become lazy, and not overstepping to the point you act autonomously. 
However, what I'm also slowly learning is the journey of life by faith is active-passive. A Sunday school rhyme I learned in Nigeria says "Do your very best, and to God you'll leave the rest". Faith and triumph over the alternative's will takes a level of action on your part, but knowing when to leave the rest to God is when "positivity" needs to be activated, otherwise we just get frustrated that our efforts are in vain. Remember this- gratitude in attitude breeds blessings in its multitude.
"Positive anything is better than negative nothing" Elbert Hubbard

Perspex Perspective

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another month, another book. I was sent a digital copy of 'Losing Heart' by the author, Donna Brown, to read and review. This is a gripping novel about Helen, who having waited months for a heart transplant, is given a second chance at life. Her gratitude following the successful surgery sees her reach out to the mother of the donor heart in what starts as a promising friendship, but soon turns into one plagued with lies, secrets and deceit. She soon discovers that "Mother [doesn't always] know best" Chapter 11.
Tartan Shirt : Motel Rocks | Skirt : ZARA | Sandals : TJ Maxx
I was a bit apprehensive at first, picking up a book with such a gory cover, but all initial doubts were soon dispelled as I quenched its contents. As tension mounts, I was challenged to dig deep into my psyche and question my own moral values, the choices I'd make in Helen's shoes, and my definition of love and the cost I was willing to pay for it. That was one of the overriding themes; the price paid for something you love. Whether it be a spouse, spawn or survival...all was called to question when someone dangled a threat to it on the line. 
Portobello Road, Camden
Tipping Point is defined as the point at which a series of small changes or incidents become significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. When one has endured a near-death experience, has kept up a sham marriage, and is in the creative industry? It's no surprise that the culmination of all these factors would cause one to question one's current existence. I think we've all been there at one point or other in our lives where we feel we can no longer endure "another evening of biting [your] tongue until it might as well bleed" Chapter 1. The trick is not to let a recurring thought become your mantra, as that will drive you crazy and "guilt never had a deadline" Chapter 1. Love and life aren't "a Hallmark movie" Chapter 1; it's ridden with flaws and failure, but that's not to rule it out as any less lived. If you are truly displeased with a current situation, then make the right informed choice that isn't selfish and takes all factors into consideration, and make your peace with it. The protagonist, Helen, does that right at the end and although I had my qualms with the process, I believe it was the best choice for her and all concerned in light of the circumstances.
Watch : Guess | Sandals : TK Maxx
"Stay scared because it's the only way you'll stay safe" Chapter 10. As a Christian, I am learning the hard lesson that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and that's truly the basis on which I stand firm in my faith (although it's wavered of late). It's often misunderstood that to live in fear robs you of the passion and authenticity necessary to truly drive you to the peak of success and self-actualisation. I argue instead that to err on the side of caution grants you the unrivalled benefit of making objective decisions on the basis of the better weighted factor. What I mean is, to live in fear of a higher power allows you to displace responsibility on a bigger source and act within your capacity alone. Helen does that; controlling and navigating what she can, but relinquishing control of her daughter, husband, nemesis and lover as truly the best way of being "forewarned is forearmed" Chapter 7. The best way of achieving this is  demonstrated perfectly by Helen; stepping back, doing your adequate research and all you reasonably can, and leaving all aside.
"We're all entitled to a second chance" Chapter 11

Losing Heart

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2015 has been the year of interest in politics and current affairs. From the Goodluck Jonathan vs. Buhari showdown Nigerian elections, to the Labour vs. Conservative battle just last week in the UK. It seems all conversations lately have centred around the economy, social mobility and maintaining a fair justice system, among other manifesto headlines. It might stun some of you, in light of the fact I'm often praised for my intellect in the comments below, but I grew up overstating my loathing for politics and current affairs. Growing up in Nigeria, politics seemed like a hobby for overworked business men, hacked up on liquor with tobacco'd puff-clouds swarming above their heads as they discussed issues they would never take active steps to rectify, or people they'd never vocalise such disdain towards if met face-to-face. I found their droning about problems mind-numbing, and thought of nothing worse than submerging myself in that clear blame culture. 
Coat : River Island | Shirt : TK Maxx | Dress : H&M
However, something happened in University. Not just the broadening of mindsets that inevitably occurred when you chucked a loadful of individuals of different backgrounds but similar ages together, but...FEES! Tuition fees. Conservatives proposed increasing fees to mirror their foreign competitors, while their political counterparts argued otherwise. Students would riot while said politicians remained bigots, and the results saw the lower classes effectively pushed out of higher education aspirations in the last 5 years. That experience opened my eyes to social injustice, pressure groups, effect of lobbying for change, and most importantly, honouring my civic duty and voting in line with my views on particular issues. 
Parish, City, State: Hogarth & Government (Hogarth House)
There's a common misconception that politics is for men, or reserved for the ugly, but that's not true. Politics is just a term, as every other profession or interest has its jargon, so does leadership of a nation and its governing policy. Your interests are affected by politics in one way or another, whether it be fashion & makeup (the price of products is affected by the markup/down of VAT decided by the ruling party), travel (from airport tax duty charges to free movement laws, politics has a lot of say over our right to liberty), or sports (financing leisure initiatives nationwide)...all that is at the whim and control of the governing political party we vote in. That penny-dropping eureka moment is when it struck me that I was inadvertently interested in politics for YEARS, as have all of you. So it irked me greatly when on election day, people were proclaiming their disinterest in politics based on an ill-conceived notion that it did not affect them or their daily lives, because as illustrated above, it clearly does.
Choker : Gift from South Korea c/o LolliHearts | Watch : Guess | Loafers : NewLook
I have found myself engaging in more political debates lately, and not just because I sound more intellectually enlightened substituting Cameron Diaz's affairs for that of David Cameron in conversation, but because I can see the bigger picture now. Politics isn't a topic set aside for adults alone either, or a subject matter only to be discussed by the nouveaux-riche, but one that's all encompassing in its reach. Tall, short, black, white, rich, poor. We are all fortunate enough to live in a society that affords us the liberty to debate, deliberate and eventually decide who governs us. That's not a right to be taken lightly, and putting my personal political policies aside, I am proud of the outcome of the elections mentioned above. It demonstrates the masses' engagement with their civic rights by voting in who they thought would uphold those rights for another term.
Riddle me this - "More people vote in 'American Idol' than in any US election" Rush Limbaugh  

Politic'd Off

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