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Online Misogyny (or Why the Internet Sucks for Women)

January 23, 2014
Cara Rage, Feminism, I love Links, In the News, Nerds and Geeks

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Source: The Oatmeal


I’ve been on the internet for a long time now. I believe I first got access to the internet when I was about 12 or 13 which would have been 1995/1996 and I embraced it completely. I used to spend hours in chat rooms and on Red Hot Chili Peppers forums, most of which was sneakily done as it was dial-up and I was only meant to be online for an hour a day to be fair to everyone else and so as not to hog the phone line. Oh the trouble I’d get into from mum when she’d realise I’d been online for hours at a time! Looking back, I can’t recall ever being abused by anyone for anything on the internet back then. I had robust discussions with other RHCP fans and excellent chats with people in Yahoo chat rooms, I even tried cyber sex once which was mostly pretty hilarious to me, but usually I just chatted to random strangers from around the world about anything and everything.

I’m not sure what happened to the internet between then and now, why people started off civil and polite and are now absolute arseholes to anyone they disagree with or just don’t like the look of. Maybe I was lucky and just didn’t witness any online bullying, though the sheer amount of time I spent online, you’d think I would have seen something? Now days you hear nothing but reports of cyber bulling causing kids to commit suicide, about people being threatened for writing something online that others didn’t like, about “revenge porn” websites (that are actually created by stealing images by hacking email accounts and posting the racy photos online along with all of their contact details for good measure) and so on. When did the internet go from being a place to share information, to make friends in other countries and look up funny pictures to a virtual battlefield? Any why exactly is it that women seem to be bearing the brunt of it all?

I read a couple of good articles this week that go into depth about why the internet basically sucks for women (here and here, I definitely recommend them both) and it made me think back to all of the abuse I’ve suffered with little to no provocation except for the mere fact I am a female. I can’t remember the first time I received gender-specific abuse online but I’ve experienced it in almost every forum, from Facebook to Youtube and even on my own blog. I’ve also received abuse that’s got nothing to do with my being a woman and simply because of something I wrote online. But almost all of it has involved some sort of misogyny, even when whatever I wrote had literally nothing to do with gender. For example, back in 2009 I organised a fundraiser for the zombie walk I used to run. I posted about it on a few different music forums, which I thought was reasonable enough, until some dude decided he didn’t like it and started writing abusive comments. At first it was just about how lame zombie walks were but as I replied to him, he got meaner and more sexist, calling me a “silly little girl” and alluded that I was only doing the walk and this fundraiser to look cool to boys.

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Other abuse I’ve received has been even more sexist and absolutely unprovoked. One time a random guy messaged me on facebook (as above) to “hook up” and when I called him out on his sexist behaviour he went CRAZY (see the second part of his abuse here), calling me slut, fat, a cunt and various other horrible things simply because I took offence to his initial, sleazy comment. Not too long after that, I got some horribly nasty comments on one of my Youtube videos where I was called fat, immature, insecure and ugly for no apparent reason. You can see the comments here and here. Those comments actually really hurt me because they weren’t as crazy sounding as the guy on facebook and so I unfortunately took them to heart. As a result I didn’t want to vlog any more, it just didn’t seem worth the stress when some other arsehole would just come along and write other nasty comments about my weight or whatever bothered them about me. I even got it from so-called “friends” on social media, who would attack me for a status update and really drill into me whenever I mentioned anything remotely related to girl problems, and especially anything to do with feminism (needless to say those jerks have been long deleted).

My experiences aren’t as bad as some other women who have been threatened with death and/or rape by hundreds, if not thousands of complete strangers. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel after receiving a barrage like that just because I wrote something on the internet that some men disagreed with. It’s also astounding at how much abuse women cop for daring to speak out against female issues, such as Lindy West who was sent a startling amount of abuse for her stance on rape jokes. Who are these people writing these vile comments and do they actually really feel that way? I’m inclined to suggest they don’t and just like to say horrible things online to get a reaction and  have nothing else better to do, because surely no decent man thinks this way? If this is the case, does it lessen the seriousness of the threat or the abuse? I don’t think so, because no one knows for sure what that man is capable of and if he’s willing to post those sentiments so publicly, then surely there’s a distinct possibility his threats are real and ought to be taken seriously? Whatever the stance you take, it’s hard to deny it’s been happening for a while now and is only getting worse.

Unfortunately threats and abuse made online are rarely taken seriously, even though they would be if they were made in the form of a telephone call or posted letter. There is an assumption that you can just turn off your computer and walk away because they’re not “tangible” threats as such and should just be ignored. But with all that we do online these days, is that really true? To one person twitter is probably a silly waste of time, to another it’s a serious tool used for business, networking and communicating with friends. Telling the latter to just “turn it off and walk away” is paramount to telling them to disconnect their phone and block off their letterbox. Just because you don’t understand a particular form of social media, doesn’t mean anything said on there can just be dismissed. I once had to report a violation of the DVO I have against someone to the police as I was contacted through twitter, and actually had to explain how twitter works and was initially given the impression his contact by such means didn’t count (thankfully I eventually got on to an office who not only took it seriously but followed it up for me and gave me some good advice about the matter).

I wish I knew what was causing all of this vitriol towards women online or how to end it. I feel as though the general public is really struggling to deal with the internet because in the matter of 20 or so years it’s absolutely boomed and those who haven’t grown up with it don’t know how to teach younger generations how to deal with it when things go wrong. If my parents knew of all the things I used to look up online back in the day, they’d be appalled! But they didn’t have a clue, and I think that’s how it works in most families, the parents just don’t get what their kids are up to online and aren’t willing to learn so their kids grow up with little to no adult supervision in this aspect of their lives. Combine this with the fact there seems to be very little punishment for those who do do the wrong thing online, kids are growing up knowing they can get away with just about anything on the internet. And if boys aren’t being taught to respect women in every aspect of their lives, it’s hardly surprising that they’ll use the internet as a place to voice their grievances because the only people who are going to see are the faceless people on the internet. who are powerless to do anything about it.

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LISTEN UP: Your weight does not define you

July 4, 2013
Body and Soul, Cara Rage, Feminism, I love Links, Life, My Advice, Pissed Off, Rants

weight

Yesterday I read this article which made me cry. Why? Because I could have so easily written it myself. I have spent much of my life worrying about my weight and I know this began early on by my mum who has a terrible perception of her own body image which she unintentionally projected onto me. Growing up mum was quite overweight and it was a major struggle for her to overcome the emotional issues that made her that way and then eventually lose weight. She lost over 40kg through Weight Watchers and was a lecturer for them for a number of years. Then some bad stuff happened, like my parents splitting up and her having a near-fatal accident while we were holidaying in Paris, that made things hard (and almost impossible for her to exercise) so she eventually put the weight back on. So now she’s back to being overweight and is desperately unhappy about it, and it breaks my heart.

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My family and I in about 2001, my mum was at the peak of her weight loss here

She would always look at thin women and say “I’d kill to have a figure like that” which I also do myself now. She also used to comment on my figure when I gained weight after going through puberty, say that I had such a pretty face before reminding me that I needed to lose a few kilos, or encourage me to go on diets with her or comment that I shouldn’t wear certain clothes as they weren’t flattering. I remember my family went on a trip to Cairns when I was in my late teens and I spent so many nights crying by myself because everyone would comment on how gorgeous my younger sister was who has always been slim, while effectively ignoring me or worrying about my weight even though I wasn’t anywhere close to being overweight.

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During the trip to Cairns where I was  made to feel fat and daggy for not being as slim or fashionable as my younger sister

I tended to go through phases where I was comfortable with myself as I was to being horrified at how fat I’d let myself become. I’d go on diets or just live life without a care in the world. I got pretty chubby while I was living in England and I really didn’t care that much at all, making the occasional token effort to eat better but generally not giving a damn. I can’t explain why I was so OK with myself as I was, perhaps it was because I was surrounded by awesome people who didn’t go on about their figures constantly or bring others down by making nasty comments, or perhaps it was because I had absolutely no trouble picking up guys. Whatever it was, I was happy, confident and didn’t feel pressured to be a skinny minnie.

But then I came back to Australia and everything changed. I met a guy who told me constantly for the next six years that I was fat, that I’d be “so hot” or “unstoppable” if I was skinny, that he was ashamed to be seen with me because of my weight, accused me of lying about going to the gym/eating healthy because it didn’t show and so on. I endured that for six years until I had no self esteem left. I only had a smidge of confidence that I had a pretty face because that’s aabout the only compliment I ever got and even then I rarely heard that because of all of the hurtful and destructive criticism he would yell at me. Imagine being told that your boyfriend didn’t want to have sex with you because you’d put on a few kilograms? That he’d start showing you off in public if only you’d lose more weight. Getting told to stop getting tattoos because they didn’t suit a girl my size. Yep, pretty nasty stuff.

I had lost about 8kg here and was told by my ex that I was finally hot enough for him to be proud to be my boyfriend. I gained the weight back as soon as I stopped the diet I was on, as I was pretty much starving myself

While it was clear my ex was an abusive jerk who didn’t deserve a second of my time (let alone six years), his words had a huge impact on me and it’s been a long, hard road to try and get over them. I have a new, wonderful and loving partner who showers me with compliments constantly, who thinks I have the body of a bombshell goddess and even if I did gain a bunch of weight, would still love me until the end of time. And yet I worry almost everyday about my weight, especially since I’ve gained a bit since I hurt my back last year and had to stop exercising for a few months. It stresses me out all the time, and even though I know I’m being silly, I can’t help it! I’m pretty healthy in my eating habits and exercise regularly, and yet I feel like a bit fat blob who everyone whispers about behind my back.

I also get really sad when I see friends get obsessed with dieting, exercising and losing weight. Now days it’s not on to say you want to lose weight, but are trying to be “healthy” when they really just mean they want to lose weight and be skinny. Why can’t we be happy with how we are and maintain a healthy lifestyle without blasting it all over social media like we’re fucking heroes for going to the gym and eating a salad? Why can’t I look at an instagram post of someone eating junk food and not immediately feel compelled to judge them?The mentality of what is healthy is is so messed up. It’s assumed that being slim = healthy and being fat = unhealthy. Meanwhile I work with a bunch of women, half of whom are super slim and yet eat anything they like, never exercise, drink and smoke constantly and yet at face-value they’d appear healthier than me with my chubby little belly, thighs and big bum. The other half just obsess about what they eat and are constantly taking weight loss pills or trying new diets.

I came to the decision a while ago that I was going to change the way I express myself about my body image issue, because I refuse to let me children grow up thinking they’re fat or ugly because of the things they heard me say about myself or others. And not just for my future children, but for other women around me. Some of the things my friends and work colleagues say about themselves to one another (as I was writing this one workmate called herself a “fat fuck” because she’s been craving/eating scones lately). I’m going to try and stop spreading negativity by bitching about how fat I am, because I’m not. And even if I was, who cares? It’s unhealthy and BORING to talk about weight all day and I’m sick of this toxic culture of bringing ourselves down when we’re perfectly wonderful the way we are.

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Ruby’s Wishlist – Cute and colourful

June 19, 2013
Fashion and makeup, I love Links, wishlist

RUBYFASHIONWISHLIST

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I am so obsessed with pastel colours lately. I blme my obsession with fairy kei. When I started this wishlist I had no idea of what direction it was going to go, but I realised very quickly it was all about cute colours and prints!

1. Transparent Lace Up Boots from Caramel Syndrome on Storenvy – how quirky and adorable are these? Imagine what cute socks you could wear with them!
2. Starlight Star Bright unicron tank from Dollskill – This is waaaay to expensive but OMG I am so in love!
3. The Awesome Shorties by Black Milk Clothing – not really appropriate to the theme as such but man I want these shorts so bad to wear with all my BM leggings!
4. Magic Backpack unicorn tee from Dollskill – ahhh this reminds me of Lisa Frank! Adorbs!
5. You Scream Ice Cream Leggings by Black Milk Clothing – AAARRRGHHH these are sooooo cute! God dammit Black Milk, why do you do this to me???
6. 14-Character Hello Kitty Scarf from Yummy You – I don’t think I need to explain why I want this!
7. Pug Teapot Brooch by Ella Mobbs – I have the pleasure of knowing Ella and even had a stall next to hers at the last Supanova. This brooch is TOO CUTE!
8. Super Sweetie pink and black Bow necklace by MissaReeGuts – I am friends with MissaReeGuts herself and am always spending my Ruby Kawaii profits on her adorable accessories!

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23 Ways to Turn on a Woman

February 6, 2013
Body and Soul, Feminism, I love Links

I just read the best article on how to turn women on. No, it’s not a naughty article, it’s about treating her with respect and has very little to do with sex. It’s really sad that so many men out there do not know this stuff, because it seems so reasonable and natural to think this way. But hey, I spent a six years of my life with someone who did the opposite of all of this, so who’s the dumb one, eh? (Not me obviously, but sometimes I wonder what the hell happened to my brain during that period of time).

I’ve highlighted the ones I am especially passionate about, but they’re all pretty darn good.

1. Respect her decisions in work, even if you don’t always agree with them. Trust that she got to her position because she knew what she was doing, and appreciate that she might understand things better than you think.

2. Hold the door for her because you hold doors for people, as that is the nice thing to do, and not because you feel that she needs special treatment or help to get through her day.

3. Feel comfortable when she performs gestures that would typically be considered “gallant” or “gentlemanly,” because you realize that those are simply nice things which nice people do for one another.

4. Have serious discussions about divvying up of domestic responsibilities, because you don’t automatically assume that they should fall universally to her because she is a woman.

5. Feel confident in both professional and domestic spheres, because you understand that neither of them are comprised of inherently gendered activities.

6. Ask her opinions or advice on things which are important to you, and really listen to what she has to say about them. Don’t assume that the only good perspective on important issues can come from your friends.

7. Listen to her when she talks about her life, and don’t dismiss what she has to say as mindless gossip.

8. Try the movies or music she likes, instead of immediately putting them in a category as “chick stuff.”

9. Stop referring to things/people as “gay” or “a pussy,” or showing disdain based on what you perceive to be their inherent femininity. Erase the connection between the feminine and the weak or unworthy.

10. Stop performing “gallant” or “gentlemanly” activities strictly because you expect sex or affection in return.

11. Erase the idea that a woman can ever “owe” you sex for any reason, or that her sexuality is a commodity to be bartered with.

12. Show as much respect in daily life for a woman who is a virgin as a woman who has slept with 100 people. Even if you wouldn’t choose to engage with her romantically, you understand that her sexual past cannot change the fact that she is a human being deserving of as much respect and consideration as anyone else.

13. Respect her ability to choose how she presents herself to the outside world, from the language she uses to the clothes she wears to the colour she dyes her hair.

14. Don’t assume that there are certain things she must be inherently knowledgeable about or inclined towards because she is a woman, such as children or cooking. Appreciate that her fields of interest may in no way overlap with your perception of “feminine.”

15. Stop holding her to different standards of appearance than you would a man. If a heavyset man is not deserving of mockery or disdain in your mind, neither should a heavyset woman.

16. Erase the idea that it is her responsibility to be attractive to you.

17. Remove the limits you have around certain aspects of your life — from friends to sports to entertainment — that you feel she should not have access to because of her gender. Understand the difference between enjoying an activity privately and saying she can’t be involved in something because she’s a woman and it is “for guys only.”

18. Respect her interest in things you might typically consider male-oriented, like sports or video games. Don’t insult her by assuming it’s a ploy to get your attention.

19. Understand the areas of legislation and cultural norms in which she is still palpably disadvantaged, and why working towards fixing them is an important goal.

20. Don’t make cutting or disrespectful jokes at the expense of another woman’s dignity because you imagine that the woman you’re with will not be offended, as she is “not like other women.”

21. Stop dividing women into categories based on their inherent respectability, and using names like “slut” or “attention whore” to demarcate them.

22. Stop allowing the actions of one woman to be a reflection of all women, just as you would not expect men to all be universal reflections of their gender.

23. Treat her as an equal, because she is one.

Article by Thought Catalogue.

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Cosplay coz you wanna!

November 15, 2012
I love Links, In the News, Nerds and Geeks

Today a friend linked me to an article called Nerds: Stop Hating Women Please, asking for my opinion (with pleasure, Naomi!). It is based off a Facebook post by comic book artist Tony Harris who had a rant about women, particularly one’s who aren’t especially hot, who cosplay at comic book conventions. Basically he feels that most of these women aren’t real fans and are just dressing up because they’re attention seekers but are seeking the attention of nerdy guys who they wouldn’t give the time of day to when NOT at a convention.

As much as I hate to admit it, I do see his point. Problem is, he articulated it badly and is being a massive douchebag about it. What he should have said, and what I hope he actually meant, was that he hates posers at con’s and if you’re going to dress up as a character, make sure you’re doing it because you genuinely love the character/fandom and not because you think you’ll look cool/sexy/whatever in it. I think that if fair enough, because I feel that if you’re going to dress up as anything you should do it well and part of that is knowing what on earth you’re dressing up as.

Where he massively fucked up was aiming his vitriol at female cosplayers specifically, ad not only that, specifically the ones who are kinda-ok-looking but not totally hot. It’s as though he’s decided that only true girl-geeks are dorky, fat and ugly like the stereotypical geeky guy, while any girl who’s super duper hot isn’t trying to seek attention because she’s hot anyway, so like, whatever. WHAT THE HELL, DUDE? He actually seems bitter about being spurned by a girl for being a geek at some point in his life and now think all women are the same. And what about his awful opinion on his fellow guy-geeks? I’d be fuming if I was a male geek and I was tarred with the same brush as the worst examples of geeks.

I think Tony and any geeky guys out there who think like him need to understand a simple fact about women. Most of us do not dress the way we dress because we are seeking the attention of males. We wear what we were because we like it and/or it’s fashion. Sometimes fashion is revealing or shocking and therefore gets people’s attention. But attention-seeking is not the sole reason we dress in anything other than oversized hoodies and baggy jeans. Now, take into the equation what the typical female wears in comic books, film, video games etc and and ask yourselves this? What the hell else are we supposed to wear at conventions? Should we be making more modest versions of female super hero costumes in order to avoid being “attention seekers”? OH HALE NO!

Tony fucked up big time by focusing on women in his rant. Because this applies to men too. I see so many buff guys strutting around shirtless or in figure hugging lycra at conventions as their some super handsome comic book character, and I’m sure a number of them are only doing to to show off their hot-bod’s and not so much because they love the fandom.  WHO CARES? Conventions are there for people to geek out over their favourite things, and dressing up is a huge part of the fun. If someone dresses up as a character and doesn’t know much about it, that’s their problem, not yours. It’s not your business if they look awful because they don’t have the perfect physique in their costume. Let them have their fun and go about and have yours.

I think that the people who deserve to be targeted at con’s are those who wear cheap, shitty costumes from Chinese websites that are ill-fitting and cheaply made. I don’t give a shit how much you love that character or their fandom, you look like a punce. I’m a firm believer (as I’ve mentioned before) that unless you’re doing to dress up properly, don’t bother. Just go in your normal clothes and take photos of the people who actually bothered to make an effort, regardless of how big a geek you think they are.

Sheesh.

I Love Links

May 31, 2012
I love Links, In the News

Goodness! I haven’t done a I <3 Links post in AGES! Well, let me remedy this immediately!

Awesome People Hanging out Together
Pretty self explanatory. Mostly celebrities and other well-known, cool people. There are some really random combinations of people which fills me with lots of joy :)

Dear Coquette
Do you need some no-nonsense advice from someone who doesn’t beat around the bush? Or do you just like to read advice such as this, dished out to strangers? Then this tumblr is for you. I love how direct she is, and have already taken some of the advice for myself.

Letter Heady
Do you enjoy letterheads? I know I do, and as someone who has an actual, proper pen pal that I write to every month, I am really into letterheads and other fancy, REAL stationary right now. There are some super cool ones here that I’d love to replicate!

Grandpa Simpson Quotes
I don’t think there’s a soul alive who doesn’t love Grandpa Simpson. His quotes are always awesome (well, maybe not as great in the last 10 years but that’s because the new writers are generally pretty awful these days).

“Mr. Peterson, you can take this job and…fill it! And one more thing…I never once washed my hands. That’s your policy, not mine.”

Lick My Cupcakes
I’ve loved this blog by Em for years but for some reason I stopped reading it for ages (my fault for not adding it to my “Blogs to check daily” folder, I s’pose). Check it out as she’s super cute and blogs very lovely things.

The Zombie Apocalypse is Upon Us
Did you hear? Zombies have turned up in the USA and well, started eating people’s faces (warning, link is GRAPHIC and NSFW). I don’t want to be called a fear mongerer but my plans to learn archery seem highly appropriate right about now, as does storing canned good, medical supplies and buying a fortress in the middle of a vast field with plenty of fresh water and good views for zombie shootin’.

 

Ruby’s Wishlist – Part 5

February 26, 2012
Fashion and makeup, I love Links, wishlist

  1. Pink “Lenora” Cake Hat – Agent Lover Bakery – US$60. Made by my favourite Filipina blogger. I’ve been meaning to get one of these for ages. Tiny top hat + cake = LOVE!
  2. Galaxy Purple Leggings – Black Milk Clothing – $75. I’m conflicted about Black Milk and don’t usually like full length leggings but they’re so original an in right now. These are my absolute faves.
  3. Wink Marker Pen – Barry M – £4.59. I’ve heard Barry M products are really good and I love the idea of a texta for your eyes!
  4. Night Ware shoe – Jeffrey Campbell – US$199.95. My sister just bought a pair of Night Walk’s and if I can walk in them, I’m so getting these :O
  5. Shinjuku dress – Dangerfield – $59 (on sale). What can I say, I love Dangerfield. Love this dress and the name only makes it better. Plus, it’s on sale! Watch out, next pay cheque!
  6. Walking Into Spiderwebs nails – Kawaii Nails – US$39.99. While I wouldn’t ever buy/wear fake nails, I am so inspired by the nails these guys create and must replicate ASAP!
  7. Jolie Bow Picnic dress – Wheels & Dollbaby – $425. For that price? Not a chance. But I am so in love with this dress. OMG the fabric!!! I also adore this one.
  8. Camaro creepers – Underground – £79.75. I am so stoked that creepers are in fashion again! There’s nothing better than pink and leopard print together in one shoe!

The Internet is a Jerk

December 18, 2011
I love Links, Life, Nerds and Geeks

My friend messaged me on Facebook today about how she found a photo of me while conducting a random Google image search. Naturally I assumed she was Googling “fabulous and beautiful ladies” but then she revealed what she actually looked up:

Whatever, internets. You can try to bring me down, but I laugh in your face. LAUGH!

I am actually pretty darn chuffed about this actually. I even appear another page down, next to a shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal so I feel that I won in some small way.

Zombies on my Mind

October 10, 2011
I love Links, Zombie Walk

Well it’s that time of year again. It’s mid-October and the Brisbane Zombie Walk is almost upon us. Literally every single thought that goes through my heard involves zombies in some way. There’s less than two weeks to go and I’m madly trying to sort out all of the permits (you don’t want to know how many we need, it’s insane) and all of the final details that will make this walk the most professional yet. It’s amazing how much we learn each year. I’m sure that even after doing this for 10 years, I will keep on finding new ways to make it run better. But we’re getting there and since my stress levels are relatively low right now, I feel confident in saying we’re doing pretty well. So that’s why my posts have been few and far between. I don’t feel the need to bore you to death with zombie-this and zombie-that for an entire month. But I did wnat to share a few things that might be of interest for the zombie-inclined:

First of all, how cute are our shirts this year? I am super proud of the design and they look AMAZING in real life! I got a couple of singlets printed as I hate wearing t-shirts, but they’re just for the female organisers, not for the public. Hopefully next year! Want one? Buy them here!

The QLD Police launched a new site called QldAlert which will compile all of their social media for a handy one-stop shop when there’s an emergency or major event. And to test it out, they made it all about a zombie outbreak. Told ya’ll the QPS had our backs!

My favourite Brisbane artist Lauren Carney has made special shirts for the walk, and is giving us half the proceeds! I am so exited, especially since the bag she had with this design at the last markets I saw her at had sold out :( Yay for cute zombies!

And finally, check out the cutest engagement photoshoot ever! (Yes, it involves zombies)

I want some Dukas shoes!

October 3, 2011
Fashion and makeup, I love Links

I accidentally stumbled upon this Greek label of shoes the other day and am madly in love. This designer has been around for about 10 years but it’s only been quite recently that the fashion world has been exposed to his… well, works of art. If I could only choose one label for my shoes for the rest of my life, Dukas would be it.

Here are some examples from his latest collections:

And here is my all time favourite design of his. I mean c’mon, pink patent leather with a pink persepex heel that doesn’t look anything like a stripper shoe? AMAZING!

I could sit here and post a dozen more examples but I will leave it you you to Google “Dukas shoes” and prepare to be amazed! The patent pink stiletto’s with black leopard print are especially delightful!