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I have been having a hard week but I’m really ashamed to admit why. I have been feeling very, very sad in an almost homesick kind of way, about the USA. It’s honestly the only thing I’ve been thinking about, and knowing I have no plans to go back any time soon is actually kind of heartbreaking. I can think of a few reasons why this is, I have a few friends in the US right now and their instagram feeds have been absolutely fantastic to watch. We had our American friend Tony and Renae stay with us this week for work/fun reasons who are both very happy to talk about America with me, and are going back to the US for a holiday over Halloween. I am so jealous! They’ll be celebrating Halloween in Chicago, where I’ve always wanted to visit. Then two girls I know from instagram who happened to be in the US the same time as we were last year are both going back again! Then on top of everything I follow a bunch of Americans on instagram who keep doing awesome things (like The Simpsons Take the Bowl, going to Disneyland, buying Halloween stuff etc). So yeah… I’ve been feeling kinda blue about it!
It really does feel like a “first world problem” (a phrase I usually loathe but can sometimes be apt) because it’s been less than a year since we went… which is probably another reason why it’s been on my mind so much now I think about it. I mean it’s not like we don’t have more travel planned! We’ve already been overseas this year when we went to Thailand in April, and we’ve booked a three-week trip to Japan in May next year! I’m so excited about that and am planning to make this trip 1000x better than the one in 2009 because my travel companion was crap and we only had a week there which wasn’t nearly enough. I’m actually hoping it’s coming up to that-time-of-month so I’m just extra emotional, I don’t wanna feel like this any longer!
So I’m writing this to vent and try to get it out of my system, and also mention that I am going to finish my posts about our US trip which I only did two of! Out of six! I’m not sure if you guys like reading them but I sure loved writing them and reading back over them (very therapeutic this morning) so I’ll try to get them done in the next week or so. Please bare with me in this difficult time (lol) and enjoy my America-trip musings!
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Unless you’ve been living under a big ol’ rock, you’ve probably heard some of the fuss about Nicki Minaj’s new song ‘Anaconda’. If not, a brief summary is that people don’t like it, they think it body-shames (specifically, skinny women) and that it’s anti-feminist. Which is a direct rebuttal to the people saying that the film clip can actually be considered empowering and doesn’t skinny-shame at all. I would like to say right now that I fall into the latter category completely. I’ve never been that big a fan of Nicki, I mean I love her image to death but her songs just aren’t quite my thing, which sucks because I am ALL about supporting black, female rappers in a misogynistic industry like the rap music scene. Before I get into why I like this particular song, I urge you to watch the clip now, even if you have already seen it, as I will reference it a couple of times:
OK so one of the first things people point out about this song is her use of “skinny bitches”. I’ll admit when I first listened to it I thought “great, skinny shaming! This is no better than Meghan Trainor’s damn song”. For reference, Meghan’s song “All About That Bass” has been a bone of contention to a lot of feminists because it’s packaged as a body-positivity song but is full of skinny-shaming (I will discuss this further later on). It’s a widely held belief in feminist circles that body-positivity shouldn’t come at the detriment of one body type over another. But otherwise I loved the song and was totally mesmerised by the film clip. I’m a member of an excellent feminist group on Facebook where we have discussed this video/song at length and it was through there that I started to question if Nicki was skinny-shaming at all, so I decided to do some research and see what other people have written about it.
I quickly found two distinct opinions, that Nicki’s brand capitalizes on racial stereotypes while reinforcing notions of Black female hypersexuality that are long established racist trope or that we live in a world where black women’s bodies are meant for our consumption but only on the terms which everyone who isn’t a black women gets to dictate (both of these articles relate to the cover for this single which was release a couple of weeks before the clip came out, just to clarify). The more I thought about it, the harder I found it to be mad about Nicki’s supposed skinny-shaming and I was starting to lean more towards the opinion that she is reclaiming the sexy black woman image from people who either fetishise or demonise it but rarely respect it. Aside from the “fuck skinny bitches” lines, everything was so great about the song and the video, the way she featured no men except for the end when she gives a lap dance to Drake who is merely there as a prop for Nicki to dance upon and is denied any real pleasure from the experience (as soon as he tries to touch her she’s outta there), the symbolism of her chopping up the banana etc.
As I kept researching I came across more articles that were pro-Nicki and so I not only started to side with them but started to vehemently agree with them. One article I loved in particular drew a comparison between Beyoncé who people are so readily to accept as being feminist (even before she “came out” as a feminist) and yet discount Nicki as being over-sexualised and anti-feminist. This is despite the fact Beyoncé has released some really problematic stuff in the past, but hey, she’s deemed classier so it’s easier to accept her brand of moderate and respectable feminism.
So what about the “skinny bitches” line. Could I ignore it when I’d had a few rants about skinny-shaming in Meghan Trainor’s song. No, but I was suddenly able to justify it. See, Nicki has reclaimed the word “bitch” to be an empowering word for woman, the female equivalent of men being called “boss”. With that in mind, when you hear the lyric “skinny bitches” it’s suddenly not a case of her saying “you’re a bitch because you’re skinny” but her just saying “skinny women” because remember, she also refers to herself as a fat-assed bitch. Yes, she does say “fuck the skinny bitches” which sounds pretty abrasive and mean at first, but after a closer look it’s really just her telling the skinny women to move it because her and her fat-assed friends are coming in to take over the club. I now interpret “skinny bitches” to refer to the skinny, mostly-white women like Miley Cyrus who’ve been trying to appropriate twerking from black women, telling them all to get out of the way because the women who twerked first and twerk best are here and they ain’t impressed.
So back to why ‘Anaconda’ is a more empowering song than Trainor’s. First off, “All About That Bass” is presented as a feel-good body-positive song, which is all lovely and fun until she actively shames a skinny woman by presenting one as “less attractive” and unable to dance in the clip. Meghan is also a thin-waisted curvy girl (therefore an acceptable kind of “fat” that is still considered attractive and desirable) who wrote a song about how bigger girls are better than skinny girls because as her mum says “boys like a little more booty to hold at night”. It’s just taking all the crap that fat women usually get and redirecting it at skinny women, which isn’t body positivity at all and is just plain ol’ skinny-shaming. But people don’t see that, they see a cute white girl in a cute music video being soooo cute and suddenly she’s the voice for all bigger women everywhere.
On the other hand, Minaj doesn’t have any such pretense. She’s doing what she usually does – the fuck you all type swagger that that you find in a lot of hip hop. At no point does she make the claim that she’s trying to make girls all feel good about themselves, her song is solely about her feeling good about her sexual prowess and how she much she loves her own big, fat ass. There’s a line that says “Say he don’t like em boney, he want something he can grab” which some might consider the same as Meghan’s booty line but the difference between them is that this is something a man has told her he specifically likes, whereas Meghan was told that to make her feel better about feeling fat/unattractive.
I guess it can all be interpreted differently depending on your own personal experience. Overall I find the idea of skinny-shaming to be a step backwards when it comes to body-positivity, but at the same time I’m not that upset by it. Yes some slim women find it offensive, and I agree that it kinda sucks. But skinny-shaming is in no way comparable to fat-shaming. Thin people, women especially, have this thing called thin privilege, where they can see thin people like themselves represented in an appealing manner in all forms of media, they can walk down the street in a pair of shorts and not have people sneering at them or calling them names, they don’t have people concern-trolling them about their health or how they’re a burden on the health system or how they’re undesirable. So when people get up in arms about skinny-shaming and how it’s as bad as fat-shaming, I feel sad because it’s not true and it’s hurtful to try and align two types of shaming that at face-value might seem similar, but in reality one is oppressive while the other is just about some temporarily hurt feelings. Oh and just a note; if your immediate response to the concept of thin privilege is to dismiss it is being untrue or ridiculous, perhaps you need reminding of the phrase “check your privilege” because the thing about privilege is that you don’t know you have it until it’s pointed out to you.
In the end, these are all my own interpretations based on my own observances and the articles I’ve read online. I have never been skinny-shamed in my life because I am not skinny, but I also haven’t experienced much fat-shaming as I’m kind of in-between. I’ve seen both though, and I gotta say, fat-shaming is a lot more common and hurtful than any of the skinny-shaming I’ve ever witnessed, which seems to mostly stem from jealousy instead of outright disgust. ‘Anaconda’ has a lyric that can easily be perceived as hurtful, but that is not necessarily how it’s intended. This is a song about having a fabulous, big ass and being proud of it. Nicki uses her sexuality to express this in a way that empowers her. Maybe it doesn’t empower you, that’s OK, but you can’t tell everyone else that they’re not allowed to feel empowered by it. I’m happy for women to be empowered by ‘All About That Bass’ too, I won’t deny it’s too problematic for me to really enjoy but I understand why others feel differently than me.
Anyway that’s my feminist fat vs thin rant for now! Back to your irregularly scheduled program of intermittent fashion and geeky posts by yours truly ;)
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On Sunday 10th August I got together with a bunch of friends and celebrated Harry Potter’s 34th birthday! OK so Harry’s birthday is actually on the 31st of July, but as that was midweek and I had Greazefest on the weekend immediately after, we decided to put it off another week.
Back in the 2002 I started a Harry Potter fan club which was primarily aimed at adults which ran til around 2007. Sadly interest petered out when the final book was released and we found it hard to get people to come to our meet ups. But I made some awesome friends from the club and we make sure that we celebrate Harry’s birthday every year as a way to catch up and reminisce about the good ol’ days.
We held this years party at The Scratch where we took over the whole back half of the bar with decorations and a ridiculous amount of food that we all made and brought along. I made cauldron cakes (tiny choc cupcakes with liquorice handles) and cockroach clusters (choc crackles with extra shredded coconut). We drank Butterbeer (as well as lots of delicious beer and cider) and had a lovly time catching up. It was really lovely having some new friends come along as well!
I only took a few photos as I was too busy socialising and eating delicious treats but I managed to snap a few on my phone:
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Greazefest was on this weekend and it was our second go at having a Ruby Kawaii stall there, despite the fact we didn’t do very well last year
. I’ve been going to Greazefest for years
even though I haven’t been into rockabilly for a good four or so years now, but it’s a bit of a tradition and always a bit of fun. Because of how disappointing last years was, we were a bit hesitant about even doing a stall again this year, but we figured we’d give it a crack in case last year was just a dud. Well… let’s just say we probably won’t be doing a stall at Greazefest again. We actually started off OK on the Saturday, we made more than the entirety of the previous year. But Sunday was a total bummer, it was really quiet which everyone seemed to notice. It’s such a shame! But that’s OK, we gave it a solid go and now will only attend future Greazefest’s as punters, not stall holders.
Here a few photos from the weekend, mostly of myself and my sister, usually eating delicious treats:
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On Sunday I went to a five-year-old’s birthday party. It was the granddaughter of my mum’s good friend and they asked me to come dressed up super kawaii to appeal to all the little girls there. With the promise of party treats and a petting zoo I was more than happy to oblige! It was a very fun afternoon and I was pleased to note the adults were probably the most impressed by my outfit, they all couldn’t get over my shoes! I also think I may have given Black Milk a few new customers thanks to my fabulous unicorn leggings.
I ate way too many chocolate crackles (it’s been so long!) and got to pat many a baby farm animal including this tiny pony who had a rainbow tail (don’t worry, it was just hair chalk). I also got my fac painted which was wonderful and I was so sad when I had to take it off later that night :(
Leggings: Unicorn Black Leggings by Black Milk Clothing
Skirt: Tutu bought from a vendor at Supanova Gold Coast
Top: Black lace shirt from Jay Jay’s (I think)
Shoes: Adidas x Jeremy Scott Pink Poodle sneakers from Laced
Scarf: 14-Character “Hello Kitty by Twinkie Chan” Scarf from Yummy You
Bow: Hello Kitty Bow (Pink) by iamchubbybunny from Japan LA
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As you are all probably aware, I really like Harry Potter. I’ve even blogged about it a few times. Well I found out a little while ago that a Brisbane group called Man vs Bear were hosting a Harry Potter trivia night at a local bar, so obviously I immediately signed up a team (hilariously named “Quidditch while we’re ahead”) and started recruiting friends to join me in my quest to prove how big a HP nerd I really am. In the weeks leading up to the night, I tried to cram as much study in as possible but between working my day job and starting my nail business I only manged to read the Philosophers Stone and a few chapters of Chamber of Secrets. Oh no! I did a whole bunch of online quizzes whenever I could, but I was so nervous! People kept joking about how there would be a group there who had no life and so knew every intricate detail of the books and would defeat us easily. NO! I had a reputation to uphold, I was known for my HP-love thanks to the (now defunct) Harry Potter fanclub and all of my appearances on the radio, TV and in local newspapers whenever the new film/book was coming out.
On the afternoon of the quiz, I met with my team to discuss tactics and have a few quick drinks to ease our nerves. We were all HP fans with excellent knowledge who were keen to win! I actually managed to rope in my friend Jen who did the quiz the night before (it’d been so popular, they had to add an extra night, which happened to be the night before we were going) who found out that the questions would be different but it was great to have some insider knowledge on how it all worked.
I won’t go through every blow by blow details of the evening as that’s ridiculous/boring but here are some of the highlights:
- We got stuck up in the back corner as people apparently lined up super early, but it was a cosy little booth where no one could cheat off us and wasn’t crammed with people like up the front
- The served Butterbeer! It was actually a cocktail but a delicious one! They also had shots caused Parselmouth which weren’t as delicious as they were full of absinthe but I tried one anyway ;)
- Our team worked together brilliantly, we all knew things that left the rest of the team stumped and there were no arguments about any answers, even when we got some wrong
- At the half way mark when the scores were double checked by the hosts, our team was ahead by a whole FOUR POINTS!
- The last half of the quiz was tough and I started to worry again some other super team would beat us… BUT WE WON!
Look I’m not going to lie, I was one of those awful, obnoxious winners who screams, dances and carries on like a jerk. But I was so damn excited. I was also stoked when I realised the top prize was a Black Milk voucher, it was as though it was meant to be! Needless to say we celebrated for a while and I maybe made myself very, very sick (oops) but let’s face it, it was soooo worth it!
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On Saturday I spent the day with my mum having lunch and shopping. It’s something we used to do often but haven’t had a chance to do for a while, so it was lovely to get a chance to do it again. This was my first time wearing my Yummy You 14-character Sanrio character scarf which, judging by all of the kids faces who I passed, it was a big success. It wasn’t actually that cold (yay Brisbane winters) but like that ever stopped me wearing something fun!
Black Milk Velvet Black Evil Skater Dress
Leggings: Black Milk Merbarbie Leggings
Scarf: Yummy You 14-Character “Hello Kitty by Twinkie Chan” Scarf
Converse Platform low tops
Bought from a market many a few years ago
Made by me for Ruby Kawaii
Enjoying sake and dumplings at Harajuku Gyoza with mum. She’ll kill me if she
finds out I posted this picture but it’s so cute!
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Yesterday morning I found our Rik Mayall had died when Ben let out a mournful “Noooooooo!” as I was getting ready for work. To be honest it really got to me, I can honestly say he was one of my heroes. I grew up watching him in Grim Tales, Drop Dead Fred, the Young Ones, Bottom and Blackadder, in fact my sister and I were totally obsessed with the Young Ones, watching it religiously and quoting it constantly. Drop Dead Fred has to be one of my top 10 favourite movies (even though the ending was a bit naff), I defy anyone from around my age to say they didn’t want their own Drop Dead Fred! Perhaps it’s a testament to how much I appreciate funny people but I always had a bit of a crush on Rik, even though he played utterly repulsive characters. There was something about his manic style, the way he turned the most deplorable scumbag into someone almost lovable (albeit in a pitiful kind of way), that I personally loved. This Vice article sums it up really nicely actually.
I’ll always regret how close I came to meeting him in 2005 when I was living in London. I found out about half an hour too late that he was doing a book signing, if I’d just read the newspaper a bit earlier I could have rushed in and made it. I was so mad at my friend who knew about it but had only thought to mention this when I’d lamented how upset I was at missing out. I have yet to even read his autobiography, possibly as some sort of dumb protest because I didn’t get a copy signed by him. Fortunately Ben has a very well-read copy which I will start reading tonight. I’ll also never forgive whoever made the decision to cut Peeves from the Harry Potter films. Rik Mayall was more Peeves than Peeves was.
RIP Rik. Thank you for all the fart jokes.
This house will become a shrine, and punks and skins and rastas will all gather round and hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader. And all the grown-ups will say, “But why are the kids crying?” And the kids will say, “Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The People’s Poet is dead!” And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, “Other kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”
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I’m a little late to the party, but I couldn’t work out what I wanted to say exactly about this matter, and how I wanted to say it. I was really affected by the Isla Vista shooting the other week, I found myself thinking about it a lot and spending a lot of time reading article about the shooting itself as well as opinion pieces on why this mass shooting was especially awful. To be honest plenty has been said about it, most of it a lot better than I could possibly write (I’ll post some of links that I especially enjoyed at the end). But I still felt compelled to write something, to convey my thoughts on what made Elliott Rogers do what he did.
First of all, what he did was dreadful in every conceivable way. He decided that because women did not want to have sex with him, and other men were having sex with them instead, people deserved to die. Such a thought process is so beyond my comprehension, I barely know what to say except he was fundamentally wrong and anyone who sympathises with him is also wrong. Not one single bit of reasoning he gave for his atrocious actions can be justified in any way, which you’d think was pretty darn obvious but the amount of stuff I’ve seen where people (almost exclusively men) saying “if women just sucked his dick, this never would have happened” and words to this effect (yes I did read a tweet that actually said that and I’m still shocked and appalled by it). Clearly some people, most of which are men, just don’t get it.
Seeing #YesAllWomen take seed and blossom into an empowering discussion about what all women have to endure at the hands of some men was wonderful. It’s been so liberating to see how big this has gotten and how far the usually unheard voice of women are being heard, finally. I love seeing how much conversation it’s been generating, much of which has been very positive and helpful in shutting down the infuriating “NOT ALL MEN” rhetoric. I can only imagine how many men are seeing this stuff, and being shocked by how lucky they are to not have endured what so many women have, from obnoxious cat calling to physical/sexual assault. I hope that men, after reading about #YesAllWomen will be more careful about who they call out “compliments” to on the street, how they pursue women at bars and when to stop, what consent actually means and how to react when they catch another guy when he does something shitty to a woman. Obviously not every man will change his behaviour, but I am really optimistic that many will.
But what about the men who refuse to change their minds or just ignore this whole issue completely? Men who’ve been brought up thinking women are nothing but objects to have sex with and (if they’re lucky/so inclined) make babies with. Men who teach their son’s that women aren’t as good as men, that manliness is proven by sexual conquest and that respecting women is for “sissies”. Sometimes these boys don’t even need to be taught these things from their parents as such, maybe their parents just don’t really go into any of it so they boy has to search elsewhere for this information, and finds it from his peers, from his favourite TV shows and films and the internet. What is the information he gleans from these sources is skewed and teaches him the wrong thing? What if he learns masculinity is defined by sex and/or violence? What if he finds new friends who feel the same way and help make him become bitter that he can’t be a “real man” without having sex, so that his only resort is violence? That’s what I believe happened to young Elliott Rogers. He wasn’t told by anyone that sex isn’t the be-all-end-all, that at the age of 22 it’s perfectly OK to be a virgin, that women can offer a lot more than sex, that you’re allowed to talk to people about how you’re feeling and that violence is never, ever the answer. I don’t blame his parents at all, they already knew he was troubled and tried to do something about it but were told there was no real risk of him doing anything drastic. Can you imagine how they must feel, they’ve lost their son but can’t really grieve for him because of his own dreadful actions.
I worry that there’s no real way to reach the young men like Elliott and his online peers who feel the same way as him. While most of them won’t get a gun and shoot people, they still think the same way he did. How do you address people of privilege who have everything going pretty darn well for them in most respects but still expect more? How do you untrain all of the young men in the world who think they deserve the love and sex of women without doing anything to actually earn it? How do you explain that a black or hispanic man has just as much right to date a white women as he does, and they probably deserve it more because they think of women as whole people and make the effort to be kind to them? How do we tell all of the new parents out in the world to teach their son’s that a woman’s worth is not measured by what she wears, how she looks or how she sleeps with? It’s an overwhelming concept which seems all but impossible, but with more and more men standing up against misogyny in society, I am hopeful that maybe it will be possible in the not-too-distant future.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds
Elliot Rodger was a misogynist – but is that all he was?
Elliot Rodger’s Online Life Provides A Glimpse At A Hateful Group Of “Anti-Pick-Up Artists”
Yet Another Blog Post About The Isla Vista Shooting