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


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 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.


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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

We live in a man's world, so it was only right growing up to be fed the mantra that silence was golden. Job 13 v 5 advises that "if only you would be altogether silent...that would be wisdom", but that didn't seem to sit right with my spirit growing up. I saw injustice all around in the form of bullying at school, and discrimination on a larger scale in University (most especially post-graduate studies), and found myself struggling to marry the Proverbs' advice of silent wisdom with the yearning within me to speak out against injustice. So on I churned in my pursuit of a purpose advocating against social injustice, and out my anger boiled against the ignorance of those around me who failed to share this mindset for challenging inequality, corruption and deceit. 
Hat : ASOS | Dress : Henry Holland | Chelsea Boots : Dorothy Perkins
I've been branded naive and idealistic for speaking out against social injustice. I've always known it was the right/Godly thing to do, but battling years of social training that to speak out was foolish had me in a tizz. Until I stumbled upon Dr Martin Luther King Jr's "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends", and it hit me. Looking back to my troubled years as a bullied teen, I cannot recollect who bullied per se or even how it happened, just the effect it had on me and how my supposed 'friends' at the time failed to defend me. Dr MLK Jr was right, and I refuse to stand beside cowards and accept injustice as status quo. Instead, I will "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute" Proverbs 31 v 8
This time last year, I was in Nigeria advicating against gender based violence and speaking on behalf of marginalised rural women, and I've never felt more alive. I attended an event recently where a practicing commercial Barrister was slating non-public school scholarship applicants who chimed the routine aspiration of becoming human rights' barristers, and it struck me as odd that a man who prided himself for building a name for himself from such humble beginnings could turn around and mock his roots. I have a post coming up about dinner-table-debates, but my family often engage in political discussions about the root cause of social inequality (especially in Nigeria), and why corruption, the fight for power, and the greed of a few is bleeding the economy dry. Without engaging you all in the inner workings of such conversations, I just wanted to shed light on my understanding that it is the actions of such ignorant men that lead and had led us into the current state of society. 
Knitted Cape : Primark | Bag : ZARA | Watch : Michael Kors
Society now lacks a conscience. So I implore you all to critically assess your understanding and actions towards equality. My faith teaches me to actively pursue wisdom and understanding so I can develop useful life skills. I remember my Business Studies teacher once advised us to stop watching the news, and I thought it ludicrous! Years later, I did, and noted I was happier but at the expense of my lost touch with reality, and social awareness. Remaining socially aware aids self-awareness, so it's critical to remain one step ahead by constantly reading, learning and speaking up. "Silence is the residue of fear" Clint Smith - TED Talk. I understand it's easier to remain in your comfort zone and shy away from public scrutiny in case you get a point wrong politically, but I want to motivate you to speak up even about the little things, and in doing so, you will regain the volume in your voice.
Read Critically ~ Write Consciously ~ Speak Clearly ~ Tell Your Truth

Is Silence Golden?

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