Wednesday, April 01, 2015

We are all familiar with the saying "fake it until you make it". That's an all-rounder that applies to sex appeal, intelligence...and happiness. There's been a surge in open admittance to depression of late; from the likes of everyday bloggers to Chimamanda Adichie. Unconsciously, we are creating a culture that openly accepts it's ok to feel sad & in one's feelings. However, the flip side is we're, in essence, nurturing a younger generation to indulge in negativity and dwell on their failures, rather than accept it and aspire to success.
Coat : ZARA | Blazer : Fenwick | Shirt : Blanco | Trousers : Wallis
I have come to discover, through my faith, that wholeness is not in the world. Seeking happiness in earthly pleasures and vanity is futile. This, in my humble opinion, is where we have erred. We are running blindly into self-constructed brick walls of goal schedules and time-limited life plans, all in a bid to gain that thing to complete us. Don't think you are exempt because you place more value in philanthropy or family life than career goals. I see you puffing your chest proudly parading your bae's recent promotion to singletons. It's one and the same.
Bloggers Fashion Week London #BFWL
It is only right to acknowledge my foolishness on April Fools' Day, because I truly have been a fool. A fool to think I can complete myself with attainment of a degree or a dream career, or the perfect networking circle. That's not to diminish the achievement of each, but to recognise that each is only a checklist. Let's be real. After each, we find ourselves thinking "what next?", and that's because we've over-valued each goal as the end goal. 
Boots : Dorothy Perkins
The end goal is no goal at all. The end goal should be realising we are not the author & finishers of our own destinies. And without force-feeding my faith to you, it's the realisation that seeking one-ness with God is the only goal one should endeavour to attain but on a daily basis. I have fallen victim to the alternate lifestyle in the past, and have even blogged about it countless times, but learning to set aside deadline goals to God is a new found challenge and one I think will lighten and enlighten others of the load of depression. Not only are you displacing responsibility for failure, but you are also freeing up the weight of planning, mapping and check-listing SMART steps. That's not to say we waddle through life aimlessly, but rather, learn that we are only vessels for a greater purpose than our small minds can conjure up in dreams. 
"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool" William Shakespeare

Fool to Full

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In the spirit of continuing with my effort to read atleast one book a month, I was sent a digital copy of Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill to read and review. Watersmeet (is the first of a series centred around the Twelve Baronies) is the tale of the protagonist, Ailith, who is informed of her innate magical abilities by a mysterious elder, Malachi. Magic is heresy under Temple Law, with a penalty of death, and thus begins Ailith's wonderful secret adventure to self-discovery through self-assessment and experimentation. I can't lie, I found it very difficult connecting with the plot, and that will be reflected in my somewhat lacklustre review, but I will endeavour to shed light on its themes, etc nonetheless in true BLEURGH fashion.
Sleeveless Duster Coat : LOVE Clothing | Jumper : Forever 21 | Leggings : Mango
Dumming Down - What I found particularly interesting was the fact Ailith lived in a patriarchal society where female literacy was unheard of. A woman's sole focus - akin to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice ladies - was to be married off to a suitable suitor, and live a submissive life as a wife. Ailith is the rebel who was taught to read and write by her somewhat-feminist grandmother, but must keep it a secret in order to be socially accepted. When this issue first crops up, its interesting to note that Ailith also conceals her intelligence so as not to appear more intelligent than her male counterparts, which is an idea that is still evident today. While in Nigeria, afriend of mine informed me that her entire department were deterring her from returning to the States to pursue a Masters degree, for fear of capping her marriage eligibility criteria. Nonsense!  The fact that we still live in an age where it's advised to dumb down so as not to intimidate a man is just...dumb! Surely, your likely match will challenge you in all realms; intellectually, physically, emotionally, spiritually...etc.  
Lunch & Cruise along River Thames - City Cruises
Familial Detachment - I found Ailith's relationship with members of her family somewhat interesting. She is drowned in a big somewhat gypsy-like family, and although the book commences with petty sibling squabbles and personality differences, its clear there's an air of love and affection customary of traditional collective cultures. I grew up in a similar household where my siblings and I were pitted against one another by my parents, yet, inspired one another to achieve our very best. Cheerleaders and competitors, if you will. In this age where competition is feared and stigmatised, I believe an upbringing in such environments is imperative to instil the right drive to achieve great goals from an early age. 
Fur Headband : Primark | Fur Shrug : eBay
Love, Lost & Found - I liked the romantic twist in the tale and how it didn't fall into the predictable mould. Sometimes love stares you right in the face, and other times its in the oddest of places, and I found the book perfectly depicted the nature of love. I will leave that topic to speak for itself as I'm still a learner and cannot claim to be an expert. Watch this space.
"It can only [work] when you add your intention to it. Know how to project your intention" Watersmeet

Watersmeet

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I endured the first 6 or so episodes of Shonda Rhimes' 'How To Get Away With Murder' and was enthralled by yet another depiction of the 'Strong Black Woman' (SBW) in the media of late. Case in point: Scandal's Olivia Pope, Suits' Jessica Pearson, not to mention the latest offering from BET, Being Mary Jane's Mary Jane Paul. The image of the SBW is being shoved so far down our throats as a flawed mould that it's odd to see why so many aspire to be carved into it in the first place. 
Jumper : TKMaxx | Tanktop (layered) : H&M | Leggings : Mango
All the characters named above are prime examples of the fact the SBW are expected to function without limits; without emotive reasoning; in solitude...in fiction. A SBW is somewhat superhuman; enduring all manners of social ills, caring for everyone else's need but theirs, and much more all without relying on another soul & bearing the brunt of the burden solo. One of my favourite songs from The Hills' soundtrack is Ingrid Michaelson's Breakable, whose chorus lyrics always resonate with me; "we are so fragile like cracking bones, we're all just breakable". The SBW is flawed because it discounts for the simplicity of human nature; we are fragile creatures. It's falicy to think the SBW can survive abuse, under-appreciation, subordination, overwork, infidelity, and all-in-all BS, because she is built of stronger stuff than her counterparts. 
It's taken my own self-analysis & the near breakdown of an SBW for me to humanise this model & see its unworkability because there was a time (and I'm sure many can relate & still pine for it) I too wanted to be an SBW. Growing up watching my mother as superwoman beat the odds, sh*t on gender stereotypes & still hold down a home was admirable to say the least...but at what cost? Maturity of mind is necessary to understand that invincibility is mythical. A SBW, like every other woman, suffers, and it need not be in silence; cries, and it need not be in the confines of her room; yearns, and it need not be for material possessions but the love & support of another; works, and it need to be for others to reap the fruits of her labour...and the list goes on. This image of self-sufficiency is damaging young women growing into the mould & falling short when deemed undesirable because they lack vulnerability they were never taught was desirable in the first place.

Hat : Forever 21 | Jacket : ZARA | Necklace : Dorothy Perkins | Boots : New Look
In the infamous words of Ri-Ri "we all want love, we all want the same thing". The need for support is not a sign of weakness but a recognition of the limitations of basic human inadequacy & the realisation of the strength of dependence. The notion that to be "strong" insinuates eternal independence & invulnerability is unrealistic & what's driving rising single-parenthood, divorce rates and infidelity in black culture. It's time we took steps to actively shift the emphasis of the SBW as a power house, and instead choose to highlight her power source: network of friends; a loving & mutually dependent partner; her spiritual faith, etc. 
"Women are never stronger than when they arm themselves with their weaknesses" Madame Marie du Deffand 

Strong Black Woman

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Self-worth and self-esteem is a topic I've been emailed to discuss on BLEURGH time and again. I've always steered well clear of it as I don't believe in sharing wisdom I am yet to adhere to. So yet again, pardon me as I scale the fence of the topic, brushing past it whimsically in order to delve into the issue in seeking it in another self instead. The image of a caped crusader may take different forms of a Marvel comics superhero depending on your generation. Either way, a Mister-fix-it is envisioned. You see, we grew up picturing there'll be this grand master who'll sweep in, dust us off our shelves and help shape us into the image of perfection.
Cape : Turkish Market | Leggings : Mango | Boots : Dorothy Perkins
Sadly, these relationship idols hold no water in reality, because in real life, you must be self-assured before seeking to carve out a unified identity with your spouse. Otherwise, you'll find yourself falling for the mindset that without bae, there's something wrong with you and you fall short of world-set standards thus settling for lesser halves in a bid to feel whole. The solution? Find yourself and purpose first before aligning it to someone else's. Otherwise, you're setting sail on a ship that's bound to be rocked/ capsized by turbulence ahead.
Dinner at OXO Tower
You see, we tend to idolise working relationships, without choosing to learn the craftsmanship that goes into its mechanics. I remember asking my network for its definition, and being moved by one in particular; love is living a life of self-sacrifice. That is perfectly exemplified in Christianity through Jesus' perfect sacrifice upon the cross, but can we take it down a notch and try to adopt that in our everyday lives? 
We live in such an instant world; everything at our fingertips. This is seeping into our relationships through dating websites, apps and social media. People aren't taking the time to find out about one another because online profiles are one-stop-shops of data on your partner, and status updates cut out the hard work of the psychoanalysis that is paramount to learning about your partner and growing together. The concept of a final-stop union is so alien in our world where all things are transitional. Relationships are no longer viewed as an investment to a life long commitment, as we are so easy to terminate our journeys once we hit a bump. Just look at divorce rates worldwide as proof of this. Our impatient generation are not willing to work towards building a union daily, like our predecessors. People don't have great marriages by allowing them to just exist. We fail to understand that relationships are tasking, and take time, diligence & intricate care in order to reap it's rewards in full. 
"When you love someone, you sacrifice" Kiera Cass, The One

Caped Crusader

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

I've always steered clear of turning BLEURGH into a platform to promote my political or religious viewpoints. However, I have been vocal about my opinion of human rights atrocities (especially pertaining to women's rights) in the past, and will endeavour to remain somewhat objective in this post. I attended a private screening of 'Those Who Said No' courtesy of JUSTICE yesterday, and stayed for the Q&A, which was hosted at Linklaters LLP. 'Those Who Said No' is an independent film by Nima Sarvestani, which documents the accounts of survivors of the Iranian massacre of the '80s as they testify at the People's Tribunal in The Hague in 2013.
Blazer : H&M | Dress : House of Fraser | Belt : Marks&Spencer
I am an avid viewer of BravoTV's 'Shahs of Sunset' and (prior to this event) had only a vague understanding of the extent of 'The Bloody Decade' in Iran. However, I was soon adequately informed about the oppressive government of 1980's Iran, which cemented its power by persecuting and wrongfully imprisoning Marxist revolutionaries, liberal activists and innocent people who protested for change. Those Who Said No is a powerful documentary, highlighting the bitter reality of the families and victims whose unwavering determination to bring the perpetrators of the Iranian regime and massacres, to justice, resulted in the scale and severity of the atrocities of the former regime being brought to light. The victims of unwarranted detention shared their accounts of inhumane and degrading torture they witnessed in graphic detail, leaving some members of the audience in tears. Heartbreaking images of 'coffins', where individuals were forced to sit in a small cubicle for 14/15 hour a day, blindfolded, with nothing but propaganda media audible. This sensory deprivation was intended to brainwash those incarcerated and create a factory of supporters; silencing their views, individuality and right to freedom. Aside from atonement and punishment, the victims were able to fire up the machinery of justice by 'exposing historical truth', after 25+ years of silence.  
House of Parliament, Westminster (London)
The documentary cleverly juxtaposes the testimonies in the Iran Tribunal with personal narratives and investigative footage of Nima and one survivor's search for justice in the interim, having been plagued by these atrocities for decades. Footage of an Iranian woman trailing the barren land (exposed as a mass gravesite) detailing the emotions of the community of mourning mothers whose sons and loved ones were cruelly murdered and secretly buried at night only to be discovered upon digging the raw soil with their bare hands and catching glimpses of their attire or distinct limbs riled a few audience members and left me raw with retributive rage. Before the credits, the post script notified a dumbfounded audience that the UN are yet to take action having been issued with the findings of The Hague Court of Justice since 2013. Neither have the perpetrators been prosecuted. In fact, those named and shamed in the public inquiry were found to now hold strong positions of authority in political, legal and democratic seats in Iran to date. 
Private Screening and Q&A of 'Those Who Said No'
It is clear that the actions of that anti-democratic regime was oppressive and inhumane, and should be brought to justice. I cannot begin to understand what it must feel like for the victims who suffered in the hands of such barbarians and can not only continue to live their lives, but are brave enough to share their accounts and enlighten millions of the massacre and gave injustice that occured. One cannot turn on the TV of late without being bombarded with anti-'Islamist' propaganda. I am no religious scholar, neither is this the platform to discuss, persecute or promote a religion above another. On the contrary, I (without sounding like an oyibo on social trial who lists the non-caucasian acquaintances on his/her Facebook friend list) surround myself with individuals of all faiths, and find it culturally enriching and thought-provoking to intellectually debate the differences, similarities, limitations, etc of each faith and motivate one another to pursue their calling respectively. Something that has been coined by philosophers as 'interfaith'. 
I had to bite my tongue and nib my pen one too many times when drafting this post, all too aware of the consequences of 'free speech' stifled in the hands of narrow-minded oppressors a la Charlie Hebdo. The Hague and the opportunity to share their stories with the world provided a cathartic form of therapy for the victims and challenged my perception of justice.
One must be aware that the establishments are made up of the arsonists as well as the fire brigade.

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Those Who Said No

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I was kindly sent a digital copy of 'Witchcraft Couture' to read and review, and also a hardcopy for one lucky BLEURGH reader to win (terms of giveaway below). Don't be dissuaded by the title, the novel is littered with religious, spiritual and philosophical nuances; from the mention of Saul's epiphany enroute to Damascus, to 'Lucifer Ltd' repossession bailiffs in Oscar's hallucination. Katarina West does an incredible job of penning the demise of a once-maverick fashion designer, Oscar Federico Pelligrini, and the repercussions of his plight for perfection and his "fear of the blank paper" (Chapter 2). She cleverly details the transition of a troubled artist's rise to fame and fall from grace, all the while mimicking his psyche through the diction, structure and style of writing in a diary format. In typical BLEURGH Review fashion, I pin-pointed 3 noteworthy themes for your attention in the book, and will discuss them below for your reading pleasure. 

Shirt : BHS | Skirt : H&M

Shortcuts - I completely related to Oscar because I am just realigning myself on the right track to achieve my goals. "In...shortcut[s] lies a moral risk, because the only way to obtain sustainable prosperity is through hard work" (Chapter 12).  Sometimes in life, we lack the motivation to carry on because we're so set on the end goal, that we are failing to properly equip ourselves with the tools needed to succeed. "Talent is not a question of fortune...but a state of mind" (Chapter 18).  Witchcraft Couture teaches that in order for one to truly succeed, one must be "ready to strive for perfection" and "work hard to be exceptional" (Chapter 18)So quit trying to find the shortcut in life, and get down to basics; hard work, perseverance and faith. 
Gossip Girl themed #BloggersLoveLFW Event, Hoxton
Modelling - Countless career and management coaches have praised the awesome power of modelling pioneers in your field as the route to success. They fail to account for the fact everyone's journey is unique. When asked what's his secret to success? Oscar mockingly credits "goat's milk" before hailing the awesome power of magic as the root of his success. The true secret to success is there is no secret! Remember that "misfortunes, never come singly" (Chapter 16), so as quick as a fickle feather rises, so also does it descend for its lack of depth to sustain its flight. Quit coveting the life of your idol and realise they too are human, and had to endure their fair share of social ridicule or tumultuous climb up the ladder like you inevitably will.
Ribbon : Chanel | Watch : Guess | Boots : New Look | Headband : Topshop
Self-deprecation - A few Lents past, I sacrificed self-deprecation and felt liberated as I no longer viewed myself through flawed worldly eyes, but saw my potential and intangible beauty instead. Pop culture worships at the feet of pleasure, which enriches oneself at the expense of self-exploitation. Oscar is infamous Psychologist Sigmund Freud's perfect guinea pig, choosing to deal with his problems by employing a range of defence mechanisms (repression, denial, projection, displacement, etc); in his plight for perfection, he flees from the expectation of his peers by seeking validation from his emotionally absent mother or the toxic contents of a bottle too many. Oscar's desires for earthly pleasures desensitised and inevitably deprived him of core values and basic needs. We must be careful not to flood our thoughts with wants, so we don't lack out true needs. Choose to "focus...not on doubting yourself [and] there's no limit to how far you can go" (Chapter 4).
"Something in my talent, something bright and mighty"..."collapsed under its own heaviness, like a dying star" Witchcraft Couture

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Witchcraft Couture

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