Our twisted beauty standards: it all begins with fairytales

So, I was just watching that ‘Snowwhite and the Hunstman’, you know, the one with Kristen Stewart and my god, my English Literature degree has ruined me because I started analysing it (kill me now). But anyway, I had a realisation on how twisted our ideas of beauty are. Ok, just hear me out.

So, beauty is seen as wonderful and desirable. If you are beautiful, you are (generally) a good person. Most fairy tale princesses embody beauty, because they are so good. In contrast, being ugly is a punishment for being bad people. Cinderella’s step sisters are ugly. Their ugliness is associated with their evilness. This is probably better explained by Roald Dahl, who, in his children’s book, ‘The Twits’, says that if you have ugly thoughts and are ugly on the inside your face will show it and you will become ugly on the outside but if you are beautiful on the inside, you will be beautiful on the inside. So good equals beautiful and evil equal ugly.

As well as this, if you’re beautiful you’re treated with adoration, respect and love and generally, good things happen to you in the end. However if you’re ugly, people treat you badly and usually you have a pretty bad outcome. How characters in these stories react to the superficialness of beauty is seen at the beginning of the Beauty and the Beast when the the prince turns the witch away because she is ugly and old but then begs forgiveness and offers her anything when she transforms herself into a beautiful woman. And, ironically, his punishment for being so superficial is to be turned into an ugly beast…

Ok, BUT If you want to be beautiful and are not already its seeing as bad. Which is super twisted. In the fairy tale setting women are punished for trying to achieve the same standards of beauty that others are celebrated for. The fact that the queen in Snow White wants to be the most beautiful woman in the land, is seen as horrifying, (even before she starts being all evil). So its bad that she wants to be as beautiful as Snow White, BUT its good that Snow White is already beautiful. In ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, she says how shes only got where she has done because of her youth and beauty, so can she really be blamed for wanting to keep that? Also, when the queen in Snow White is defeated, she is shown in rather shocking graphic imagery turning old and ugly. That is her punishment.

So children, the moral of the story…

Its good to be beautiful, and beautiful people are well loved. It’s bad to be ugly and ugly people are shunned. But it’s bad if you try to be beautiful and are born ugly. Ugliness is used as a punishment for people being superficial so they will be treated badly. But it is bad to judge those who are born ugly. But those people who are ugly already are not allowed to try and be beautiful, coz that would be superficial and selfish of them.

I know I’ve barely scraped the surface here but seriously, what the fuck. Rant over.

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Take the leap.

This post I will reblog one of my earlier posts; ‘If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?’ and add some new stuff at the end about taking the leap and speaking about ‘what ifs’.

‘This post is going to be one that, I’m sorry, is slightly philosophical… but also one of the most important things that I think I will ever write and I’m just gonna dive straight in; ask yourself, if you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today? And by that, I don’t mean, not turn up to work.

What I do mean is, first of all, don’t go to bed mad with people you could make up with, they could be gone tomorrow… If there is anyone that you wouldn’t want to die without making up with, sort it out now. We don’t know what life is going to throw at us, we could all die tomorrow. You could literally walk out your front door, cross the road and get hit by a bus. I know that sounds dark and pessimistic but it’s true.

That friend who you argued with the other week and still haven’t made up with, that guy you used to be friends with, tried dating and now it’s weird, just sort it out. Talk to them, even just one conversation could make you feel so much better.

Which brings me to my second point, do not have bad blood. It is toxic and will seriously get you down and be a huge negative impact on your life. If you reconcile with those who you have bad blood with, discuss your problems and do not leave things without sorting them out, it will make you feel so much better. You may not even realise that it’s weighing you down but our lives are so busy and what we do is so time consuming, we rarely have time to think long and hard about what may be negatively impacting our lives and moods.

Even while saying this, I understand that there are some things that can’t be reconciled. If feel totally ok even though there are problems between you and someone and you would be totally ok without reconciling with them before you die, then fine. But I stand by what I said, bad blood is toxic and dealing with this will lift a weight you didn’t even know existed.

On a similar but slightly different point, if there is someone that you are in love with or even have feelings for, for the love of God literally just tell them! This links to another post I’m going to write about relationships so watch this space.

Then, if you love someone, tell them. I see so often that people say, ‘oh I have been in love with [insert name here followed by hopeless sigh] for [insert insanely long time]’. If you love someone, and you haven’t told them the most likely reason is that you’re scared of rejection. If they turn you down or say that they don’t reciprocate your feelings, then yeah, it’s going to be really rough for a while. But then at least you know! Not knowing and living in a constant stasis of limbo is going to be even more destroying than the pain of rejection. Then you can move on with your life, time heals all wounds, and you will be annoyed at yourself for waiting so long to address the problem! You will feel so much better, a weight will have been lifted that you didn’t even know that was there. For your own sakes, just do it!

Be happy, love life, spread the love and release the hate.’

Moving on to the new ideas, if you have an opportunity and you don’t take it, do you really want to live the rest of your life wondering what would have happened, what could have been, if you would have been so much happier or so much better off if you’d just taken that leap.

You’re scared that something’s not going to work out. But are you willing to not take the chance that you could miss out on something incredible, just on the off chance that it won’t? Really? If none of us ever took any leaps of faith then we would never accomplish anything, we would never get that new job, create that new friendship, find that new joy in life, we would never fall in love.

Are you willing to risk future happiness because you were too scared to take the chance. No, it might not work out. It might crash and burn. But it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.

You’re worried that you’ll regret it? Trust me when I say you will regret it more not taking the chance at all. Just go for it before the chance disappears and you’re left with the unknowing of what it could have been.

If you have unfinished business or there’s something in your life that you know be amazing and you don’t take the chance. That will eat away at you for the rest of your life, always in the back of your mind; what could have been.

You owe it to yourself to take the chance.

 

 

Mask-up, Make-up

 
I started writing this after the first week of travelling. It’s just a rant about makeup and beauty standards and stuff. Enjoy xx
 
‘I have always worn a lot of make up, even when I don't leave the house, or just pop to the shops. I don't really have a lot of confidence in my natural complexion and never have done. But I thought to myself that travelling the world on my own, out of the everyday experiences and people would be the perfect time to go barefaced and see if I could handle it and see if it would help my skin at all.
 
The first week I was with my project group in Thailand. I only brought foundation and mascara out of all my thousands of makeup products. I still wore it though. I didn't and still don't really have the confidence not to wear it. I suppose I wanted to make a good first impression, I don't really know why, because there was no one there that I wanted to impress. After the first few days though I did stop. No one else there was wearing make up and they still seemed to be getting on fine…
 
So since then I haven't worn any, not at all, even when I was going to new towns and meeting new people. And I haven't been treated any differently. I thought that my difference in complexion would make a difference to how people treated me. But can you blame me? We are brought up in a world where we are taught how important first impressions and appearances are. Is it really that surprising that I feel I would be judged for revealing my natural complexion which I feel is so much worse to look at than the skin that the world sees when I cover up every day. I feel that people will judge me, think worse of me, if I have a bad complexion. Also I feel that the longer that that person has known me with the full face of make up, how badly will they judge me if they see my ‘true skin’.
I know this all sounds dramatic and making me sound like my complexion is absolutely horrendous but its how I have been made to think. And is it really surprising as I’m currently sitting in this airport looking at the rolling adverts promising perfect skin, beauty and acceptance and sexual desirability if you buy x y and z.
 
I would like to get to a place in my life where I feel like I could feel confident to go out without all my make up, where I feel like I would not be judged for not having perfect skin, but I'm not there yet, maybe one day but we'll see.’
 
Soo back from travelling…and back to wearing a full face of make-up. It was weird. I feel like I’m taking better care of my skin now and wanting to use more natural products on my skin and stuff. Just to clarify, my skin isn’t like something out of a horror film, like I said it’s just how I’d been made to think it was and get upset thinking about it. I just felt like I needed to get off my chest how unfair I think it is that our society makes us feel this way and is so hypocritical that it promotes ‘naturalness’ but the standard of ‘natural beauty’ is literally unattainable if you’re not going to wear makeup. Like, wtf. So after many ramblings, just do whatever makes you happy and fuck what everyone else says and thinks. If you’re happy with no makeup, don’t feel like others will judge you for not wearing it. If you’re not happy without make up, then wear it, no biggie.
 

World Literacy Foundation – tackling illiteracy in Uganda

Right now, in this day and age:
20 million classrooms lack basic educational resources.
In Africa, 11 million children leave school without completing basic primary education.
In 2010, 61 million primary school age children were not enrolled.
59 million children cannot read, write, or do basic maths.
1.2 billion children have little or no access to basic learning resources, electricity or internet.
1 out of 5 people in the world cannot read or write.

This post is going to be slightly different to usual. Today I’m going to shamelessly talk about this charity I work for that is battling all of those statistics that I just listed; the World Literacy Foundation.

This year 100% of the money raised for them will go to the Sun Book Tablet project currently running in Northern Uganda where there is the highest poverty and illiteracy rate in the country. The Sun Book tablet is an innovative, low-cost, solar powered, tablet with pre-loaded educational content. It contains hundreds of books, learning applications, lessons plans, student assessments and many other interactive tools. Powered with solar chargers and pre-loaded with educational content, the Sun Book tablet has been designed and tailored to meet the needs of classrooms in “off the grid” settings that lack electricity and the Internet. The Sun Book tablet aims to provide the most enriching and empowering learning experiences to children in off the grid environments. Greater access to quality education provided by the Sun Book tablet provides beneficiaries with an opportunity to acquire the literacy and numeracy skills needed to succeed in school, enhance social inclusion, secure employment and ultimately bring themselves, family, community and country out of poverty.

Apart from the obvious benefits of curing illiteracy, there are many others. For example it will be able to promote gender equality, improve health, increase employment, reduce poverty and create a whole new future for these children.

Gender Equality
It is undeniable that education helps to tackle the issue of gender discrimination, and it promotes changing attitudes in young children and lead to equal opportunities and benefits for both men and women. Literacy practices enhance gender equality and empower both men and women to empower one another.

Improved Health
Literacy significantly enhances a person’s ability to understand, apply and access health-related information. In impoverished communities, mortality rates for young children under five-years-old are considerably lower when literacy rates are prevalent. Literacy leads to an increased awareness of disease and a stronger initiative to seek quality healthcare for their family and community.

Employment Opportunities
Literacy significantly correlates with employment, and as reading and writing are vital skills in the search for meaningful employment, it is a necessary that we continue to promote the importance of education around the world. Literate individuals are able to access to a wider range of career choices, and are more likely to champion for equal pay and fair work rights for themselves and their family.

Reduced Poverty
Literacy allows children, communities and countries to lift themselves out of poverty. Those who live with high literacy skills are likely to have access to employment and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. When children feel empowered through literacy, they will empower the wider community and bring around real change in the world.

A Whole New Future
Through literacy, a child can create a new future. They are able to fulfil their potential and achieve their biggest dreams. When a child is empowered through literacy, they enrich the lives of their family, community and nation.

As I have explored in previous posts, I have a great passion for literature and think that it’s a huge injustice that there are those who cannot read and therefore miss out of all the benefits of literature. This is me trying to tell you about the gravity of the problem and to a lesser extent letting you know that you can help my donating to my crowdfunding page here.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com:443/world-literacy-foundation?utm_id=63

(In the interest of copyright a lot of this information has been given to me by the WLF charity itself and I’m just sharing with you what they’ve shared with me.)

Travelling alone, what people don’t tell you. 

Travelling alone according to every millennial article you will read will, is supposed to be the most amazing, perfect and life changing experience of your life. Whenever I asked people what it was like to travel alone, they never hinted that there was any down side.The truth is, it is amazing, it is life changing but it is far from perfect.When travelling alone, I was confronted with something that I’ve never had to face before and that was being alone. Like really being alone and isolated. Before I went away, when I was at uni, if I came home to an empty house where all my housemates were out, I’d get really down and lonely, even if it was for just a few hours. And if you’re like me and get lonely like that, odds on you’ll find this whole new level of loneliness really hard. Some people are ok with that but personally I’ve never been very good at spending lots of time by myself.

People would ask me if I ever got lonely when travelling and the truth is of course I did. Especially when there was a night or so when there was a few nights and I ended up being in a room on my own for various reasons. You don’t have your friends, family and support network right beside you like you normally do. You have your phone sure but with time difference and stuff that’s not always gonna work out well.

A lot of the time I felt like I didn’t have a ‘safe place’ to run to when it all got a bit much and have no shoulder to cry on. But as a friend told me, you have to make ‘yourself’ your own safe place. Easier said than done, especially when you’re in a scary place but true all the same. It took a while but I think I did it. You have to be ok with being on your own and be less dependent on the company of others. And you have to be able to be friends with yourself and be able to enjoy your own company.

One of the biggest things I was faced with was making all the decisions. More importantly, if something went wrong, it was all on me. I would have to find a solution and fix it. It was scary but you know, it forced me to grow up and take responsibility.

I made to be ok with actually spending time by myself, it was really hard at first but it got easier. When I wrote the first draft of this, I was chilling in a restaurant, eating, drinking and writing this by myself, which I know a lot of people do but I’ve never been very comfortable with it, and I was totally fine, I didn’t mind it at all.

If given the choice I would always choose to spend a night with friends than alone and I think I will always be that way. However I think the crucial element here is that there will be some times that you will be alone.You won’t always be fortunate to spend all your free time with loved ones, you will spend some days alone.

I know I’m making travelling alone sound less than appealing but it really wasn’t. Travelling alone forced you to make lots of friends which I wouldn’t have done so eagerly otherwise and made a lot of closer friendships. I learned a lot about myself and gained a lot of independence. But I’m not gonna ramble on about all the benefits of it because you can find them everywhere. It was amazing, it really was, I’m just trying to tell you what everyone else seems to be avoiding.

‘So brown and so happy’ – my grans description of me travelling, May 2017

So after 3 countries, 13 flights, 19 airports, god knows how many beds/places I’ve fallen asleep, countless memories and laughter and just a few tears my travelling time came to an end. Today marks one month since my return to England and this post seems to be coming late but it took a lot of time everything sink in. This post is going to be relatively short but I just want to put an appreciation post out there about my experiences.

I know how ridiculously lucky I am. I know that I have had a once in a life time unbelievable experience. My heart is so full and I am so grateful for everything that I have done. I don’t want anyone to think for a second that I have taken all of this for granted. The experiences I’ve had have been absolutely incredible. They have changed my perspective on things and made me look at life differently. I can honestly say that I have returned from this trip a different person. I know that a cliché thing to say but seriously, it would be weird if all these crazy experiences, travelling alone, volunteering and meeting so many different amazing people hadn’t changed me! I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I have a clearer picture of what I want and what I want to achieve but I also have learnt to enjoy everything in the moment, not always being like, oh, I can’t wait for this part of my life to start. Of course, I still look forward to stuff and get excited about the future but definitely not overlook what’s going on around me now. I used to panic about absolutely everything but now, I’m a lot calmer and I deal with problems a lot better. I also like to believe I’ve become more compassionate and more understanding towards others and empathise with their problems more. But also I have learnt that it is ok to be selfish sometimes and to take time to look after myself, which was never really a priority for me before.

But I wouldn’t have been able to have any of these experiences or grow as a person at all if it weren’t for all of the incredible people that I met along the way. You made it what it was and, I want to thank each and every one of you. My heart is so full and I am so grateful. From my volunteering buddies who I got extremely close to even after a few days, I will never forget, to the guys I met in hostels all over Australia, to people I met on tours, trips, even the people who helped me when I was lost and didn’t even know their names. Thank you to all of you. There is so much love in this world and travellers share the most of it. Everyone wants to help each other, even though everyone’s in the same boat of poor-ness and worry. You guys are some of the best people I have ever met and the people who have the most love in their hearts. I love you all.

From Broome to Darwin, exploring the Northern Territory 

Picking up where I left off last week, and carrying on my Australian adventure; when my time in Perth was over I headed to Broome, which honestly, was great but so tiny. I only spent two nights there and that was enough. I did go to the world oldest open air cinema, something that I’d always wanted to do which was great. The building was still all original and it had the original style deckchairs and I watched ‘Beauty and the Beast’ under the stars. The town was cute, there and some shops and a few small independent art galleries in which the artists were still doing their work. I love exploring new artists and supporting them. And I saw the most incredible sunset. I was to see many sunsets and sunrises in my time travelling but honestly, this one was by far the best. The sky was perfectly clear and there were about five or six colours streaked across it, and then came my absolute favourite time of night, when you can still see part of the sunset on the horizon but the sky has also started to blacken and the stars have begun to come out. Honestly, beautiful. The friends I made there were the best. Took me under their wing the first hour I got there and essentially looked after me haha. Took me round places with them in their van, we had BBQs. Watched sunsets, had drinks and made friends for life. It was fantastic.After that I went to Darwin. Well, that was crazy. I of course, checked into the main party hostel and was so happy I did. Within 2 hours of landing, I was drunk of my ass with a group of crazy girls I’ve never met before and had the time of my life. They were mad and I had so much fun, spent a lot of money and got wasted. But the guys I met did this every night, and a lot of them were on working holiday visas. To me it looked like a working holiday visa was working shit jobs, for shit money, to spend it all on alcohol, to be hungover in bed that day, to go to back to work, to do it all again. I asked some of them how long they’d been in Australia and some answered about six months. I said, oh how much travelling have you done? They would reply none because they haven’t got any money, even though they work everyday. It all went on alcohol. $9 a shot. It made me see that I would probably never do a working holiday but I would just go back to do a tourist visa like I did before. I’m sure there are loads that love it and that a working holiday visa is something that would be perfect for them but just not for me. It seemed like it was not all the Australian traveller dream is cracked up to be!

Anyway, I had a great time in Darwin, there’s quite a bit to do! I went to the Litchfield National Park which was incredible, I love getting into nature and exploring new places so this was definitely one of my favourite things to do! I swam in waterfalls and explored new nature, I loved it. I went on a jumping crocodile tour and they leaped out of the water and wiggled like a salmon to get the meat which was awesome. I also swam with a crocodile which was absolutely terrifying but ya know, when in Rome! That was actually my attitude to pretty much everything that I saw the opportunity to do. If I was ever on the fence about doing something, I was like, when am I going to be here again and have this opportunity. Made me do things I’m not sure I’d have done otherwise!

Bit of a short one but next time will be the beginning of my East Coast adventure when my bestie came out to join me so watch this space!