Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I have touched on my work with domestic violence (DV) victims once before, but I believe my wealth of knowledge on this matter has since developed upon returning to the UK and practicing as a DV advocate in courts in England and Wales. My work has opened my eyes to skewed statistics, victim psychology and the role of the third party. This may prompt a #WhyIStayed or #WhyILeft debate, but I feel its important to openly discuss such issues on modern platforms such as blogs, to create an open environment where the victim no longer feels stigmatised for undergoing distress, but rather, empowered to make the right decision for themselves.
Shirt : ZARA (Mens) | Jeans : Dorothy Perkins | Heels : Topshop
Now, I'm sure you've all familiarised yourselves with the Ray Rice assault case. If you haven't, a brief summary is Mr Rice was caught dragging his then-fiancee (now wife...but we'll get there in a minute) from the elevator, after battering her to the point where she could no longer autonomously command the use of her God-given legs. What caused much uproar were the events that followed i.e. Janay choosing to stay and MARRY the man who physically assaulted her. As a result, Mr Rice evaded criminal charges and instead, was suspended by the NFL for two games (which has now been increased to an indefinite suspension, following the public outrage).
NGOs brainstorming means/services for DV prevention & assistance
Working with victims, it has become evident to me that there are many factors at play in one's decision to seek help or remain in a tumultuous relationship. The age-old Oprah-infused adage of "if a man hits you once, he will hit you again" is worth considering. But this is not the blanket answer to everyone's circumstance. As a Christian, I understand that vengeance is the Lord's, and it is not my place to judge but merely assist. However, that does not mean we must stand by and condone the actions of an abuser, or desensitise the reality of many victims who are lost on what resolution to seek. Courts and injunctions aren't for everybody, but neither is the decision to raise a home with someone who has defiled you physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually.
A few weeks ago, a well-known Youtuber shared her plight with DV, and with that came questions and accusations. What we need to understand is that we are merely observers. Women should be empowered to be party to relationships based on dignity, respect and love. I have come to understand that most abusers manipulate the victim to justify their actions; i.e. "I only hit you to teach you a lesson" or "Its because you did X, that pushed me to do Y". Fear and blame culture is one of the many reasons why victims choose to stay, and shaking our heads at them further stigmatises their rationale and capacity to make a well-informed decision. In so doing, we are stripping the victim of the confidence to seek the help they deserve, or voicing their concerns. Janay Rice has been called everything from a gold-digger to a bad mother, and yet, the abuser (Ray Rice) is walking scotch-free from the moral jury as just being an angry man...ofcourse, that makes perfect sense *sigh*
"It takes an average of seven times for a victim to leave an abusive relationship" National Domestic Abuse Hotline

Ray Rice Rant

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This post has been eating at me to be written for some time now, but it wasn't until my recent travels to Nigeria, that the overwhelming urge became unbearable. I bumped into an old friend, and she was unrecognisable. In place of her beautiful ebony skin was this patchy caramel mess. I was stunned! Here was a young girl I had once idolised for her courage and confidence, and instead, before me stood a woman who was unsure of who she was and clearly still fighting beauty battles of esteem.
Dress : BIY (Ankara Tie-Dye) | Belt : Thrifted (London)
I am no angel. There are still days that I wake up pining after the curvaceous hourglass figures of friends or my feed on social media, but the days of wanting to alter it drastically are long gone. There's no trick. No two people are the same, and the need to be will only leave you discontent with your reflection. It aint magic. You just have to learn to accept the skin you're in & work with what you've got. Following the aftermath of a prominent youtuber/vlogger undergoing cosmetic surgery, I began to question why women (most especially) are still struggling to accept the skin they're in, well past their 20's.
Liz Earle 'Botanical Beauty' Event at John Lewis' Rooftop Garden
As I walked to my Aunt's house in Lagos, I was approached by an independent beauty vendor and urged to come into her store. Based on the area, I felt safe to enter & see what she was droning on about (plus, she had addressed me as "beautiful", so it was the least I could do, as I still struggle to respond to compliments). This lady quickly reached for her "top selling product" on her shelf, which she assured me was all I needed now to tip the scale from beautiful to...wait...whats more than beautiful? You see, she had faltered there and then, and I finally got the answer I had been looking for; our plight for beauty is endless! I have touched on this a few times before, shedding light on the trend-like nature of beauty. So there I stood, with jar of skin-lightening cream in my hand, sure that society had lost the plot. What would possess me to damage my skin for the sake of contemporary beauty?
Burt's Bee's 'Bee Natural' Event in Seven Dials, Covent Garden
Caudalie Event in Seven Dials, Covent Garden
And here I am again, in the present, amidst the drama surrounding cosmetic surgery, struggling to understand the means and ends of feminine beauty. Rooted in the words of this youtubers' stans is a clear acknowledgment that decisions to alter one's image should be autonomous & private. Yet, if it were a friend or family, one would no doubt question the lengths and motives behind such a decision. What makes a boob job ok, but the decision to alter one's skin tone still socially unacceptable?
I remember waking up and dreading it. I remember not wanting to look at the mirror. I remember not liking what I saw. I remember praying, wishing, hoping...for change. And then, one day, I woke up content. Beautiful.

Light Bright Beauty

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Slacktivism is a portmanteau of the words slacker and activism. I first stumbled upon this term while indulging in my weekly fix of Lucy Mangan's article in Stylish MagazineSlacktivism describes inactive means of showing support to a prominent issue or social cause, without any actual/practical sacrifice being made, and its effect is  to make the person doing it feel good from publicly expressing their contribution. I read about it months ago, but it's been nearly impossible to log on to social media of late without watching feed-loads of videos of people dumping ice water over their heads, or vice versa. And I had no issue with it, until I woke up on sunday morning to a swarm of #IceBucketChallenge videos that:
1) Did not refer to, or show an understanding of, ALS;
2) Did not have ice in the buckets;
3) Blabbed on about substituting donations for 'good deeds';
4) Thanked those who nominated them.
Scarf & Buba : Ogba Market, Lagos | Shirt : Dorothy Perkins
...that I decided to draft this post. It just seems to me that the participants had little or no knowledge of what the ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) acronym stood for, and thus, chose other charities in its place. Instead of taking the time to research, they chose to invest time, effort and money filling their bucket with the right tools, rather than their minds, and that saddens me. 
'End Sexual Violence in Conflict' Summit, created by William Hague & Angeline Jolie
Adding a caption to the collage, encouraging others to lend their voice
This campaign, among many others (remember the #NoMakeupSelfie to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer?), creates this notion that fundraising is a fad. Because, lets be real, no one is taking #NoMakeupSelfies anymore, and thats because its far trendier to tip a bucket over your head...hence why people are glad to be nominated. Its like a rite of passage, that someone thought you cool enough to nominate you...but I find it thoughtless, that it has become more about the individuals named in the videos than the cause behind it; some don't even donate! When the #IceBucketChallenge started, the person who was challenged had 24 hours to complete, record & post it up, otherwise they had to donate $100. However, not everyone is raking in enough paper to afford that amount, and once it went viral, the $100 donation was a mythWe've become increasingly obsessed with people's perceptions of our lives, so we choose to only showcase the good and glam aspect through countless over-filtered inane selfies. People have now turned the #IceBucketChallenge to a means of showcasing their summer bodies, tagging only their circle of friends, or using it to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. None of which is altruistic in the least.
Watch : Michael Kors | Bag : Moschino | Sandals : Enugu Market
That being said, over $15million has been raised from the campaign, but what I fear is that this revenue is unsustainable. Having worked in the philanthropic industry for a number of years, its interesting to observe the different means that have been incorporated to raise funds; telephone harassment fundraising, races, face-to-face street attacks fundraising, tear-jerking videos depicting the stereotypical malnourished child living in an impoverished nation in need of just £1 a month, etc... so perhaps, this is just another means to an end that will pass over time. Whatever it is, slacktivism rubs me up the wrong way, and I wish they would engage other means to raise money.
Altruism requires selfless acts for greater good, and slacktivism contradicts that. BLEURGH!! 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I attended a private screening of Obvious Child in Covent Garden Hotel, courtesy of Emerald Street. Its been a minute since my last review, so I was more than happy to enrich my cultural capital (and yours too) by indulging in a Sundance Festival acclaimed indie flick before its release this Friday, 29th Aug. Not much of an indie stan myself, but I'm over all-star casts after the flops that were NYE and Valentine's Day. So, in typical BLEURGH fashion, I will endeavour to abstain from any spoilers, but hone in on a few topical issues/themes I picked up throughout the movie, and hopefully you can share your opinion down below.
Knitted Cape & Boots : Primark | Shirt : Ali & Kris | Skater Skirt : River Island
The movie is centred around the life of Donna Stern, an aspiring 20-something comedian whose stand-up act is an unfiltered regurgitation of the intimate details of her life. Yes, she is brazenly blunt for a protagonist and I see the underlying point being made by the directors, etc...but I found myself cringing one too many times at the vulgarity of her speech or lack of decorum in her conduct. I found myself questioning the root of humourous material doled out by the greats such as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Kat Williams, etc. Yes, I understand there is truth in it, but it is so ludicrously entertaining that one cannot help but rule it out as far-fetched. Yet, the protagonist lives out the truth of her material on a daily basis, and it forces me to reassess whether the anonymity of comedy truly is the key ingredient in securing those lol's (please refer to #JadaPose).
The older generation watching Obvious Child, may be perplexed at the prospect of a woman in her late twenties still languishing in a dingy apartment, traipsing between her parent's abodes where there's guaranteed warmth, shelter and good food...but this is the present day reality for many graduates. Gone are the days of a good degree equating to job security or a straight path to self-actualisation. Au contraire, what us 20-somethings are faced with is an extended 'childhood'; kidulthood if you will. Studying sociology, I engaged in many a debate about the likelihood that the early noughties' 'childhood' (ranging from birth-16) was nothing more than a social construction. I'm afraid the age of worldwide legality starting at 21 could be under question too, as far too many individuals over that age bracket are still very much dependents (in the legal sense) of their parents'. This issue was cinematically conveyed to perfection when the protagonist strips to the bare minimum, plunging into the open arms of her mother to bawl about her current issues and be consoled by the scribblings of her adolescence.
Hat : ASOS (c/o Lolli) | Watch : Michael Kors | Necklace (not pictured) : c/o Twenty8Twelve
Lastly, was the issue at the heart of the movie; abortion. It hit home why this was ruled 'indie' once this issue arose. America is divided on this issue, and many political debates have centred around the Pro-Choice Vs Pro-Life argument. Obvious Child not only sheds light on the history of the legality of abortions in America, but also examines the woman's psyche before, during and after undergoing the procedure. Never before has the decision to abort a child been so romaticised in cinema. Think Juno (or any other teen movie); the pregnant party always gives it up for adoption into a happy home, or keeps the baby to raise with the love of her life. Yet, here is a paradigm shift where a woman takes ownership of her body and makes a choice in light of her circumstances. Thats a brave move for a movie, and worthy of my commendation. Be assured that the flick isn't as heavily ridden with underlying life lessons as I have discussed in this post, but if you've got a penny to spare and time to kill, I'd push you towards the cinema door to watch this.
"Creative energy sometimes comes from the lowest point in your life" Obvious Child

Obvious Child

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Following on from my previous post, I wanted to continue this 'Back to School' Series by discussing the much shrugged issue of finances. This isn't much of a worry for the teens - but I don't think I have many readers in that demographic - so into the coin pit I delve.
Blazer : H&M | Dashiki : Lagos, Nigeria (seen here)
A friend too many confided in me about their dire financial state recently, and it's genuinely puzzled me. This was even more so in University, where young adults were entrusted with large chunks of money in the form of grants, loans and Bank of Parent hand-outs for the first time. I love the finer luxuries in life, but I'm smart enough now to cut my coat according to my size & live within my means. That's not to say I have never been strapped for cash, but my ignorance was my saviour as having never signed up for a student account, I never relied on the safety net of an overdraft. That meant whenever my balance was tipping towards the 0, I bactracked my plans and sat my butt at home.
Plate hanging on adjacent side of Bank of England Museum entrance

Hustle & bustle of the City (Bank Station)
University is a big melting pot of individuals from all walks of life; truly a priceless experience. Some have been taught the value of money, and others haven't. In order to have a great time, it's better to be in the former category but you must learn that it isn't all dependent on you but also your social circle. The same is evident in the real world. The gold-diggers, leeches and a thirsty broads aren't sectioned to just young adulthood. Thus, it is incumbent on you to surround yourself with like-minded folk or smarter ones even, so as to properly economise and maximise your coin's capacity.
Watch : Guess | Bag : ZARA
In light of that, here are a few folk I advise you to steer clear from in University (and life):
1) Blow-Money-Fasters: These are the folks you see making champagne rain in the clubs on the weekend, yet soak nothing but garri through the week (no shade). Be careful of these people 'cos they are frivolous and fickle, and their value system is based on aesthetics and materialism.
2) Never-Ever-Reimbursers: You know them by their wandering eyes and dodgy behaviour when it comes to cab-money-collection, pizza-payments or payback-card-qualms. Beware of these folk because they are just as shady with their trust, as they are tight with their purse.
3) Treat-Tramps: These rats lurch in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to throw you in the frontline to pay on their behalf. Your purse is already open so it makes perfect sense...or so they say. Be wary of tramps that base your friendship on your ability to treat them. I call them sappers, cos they will sap your coin, confidence and connections. Don't say I didn't warn you!
One's coin capacity is dependent on the ability to limit the need to lavish it on luxuries. BLEURGH

Cash au Coin

09 10