Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Baby I Got A Plan, Run Away Fast As You Can...

So i'm nearly a week late with this and i'm sure the internet is saturated with articles about it... But for the last few days I haven't been able to get it out of my head... Any time my mind starts to wonder it drifts right back to it and so I feel compelled to get this out of my system...

I'm talking about Kanye West's Yeezy Season BORE 4 collection...

Now i'm not going to go into his messy, controversial 'multi-racial women only' casting call or even the show itself, which was clearly a shambles and has already been dragged all over the internet. No, i'm actually just interested in shading the clothes.

For the most part I have actively tried to ignore Kanye these last few years. His narcissistic rants and the delusional soundbites they've produced 'I AM SHAKESPEARE IN THE FLESH' have left me cold to the man and the overrated music. Someone who once spoke out so passionately about the plight of Black Americans now seems completely out of touch, only motivated by grandiose visions of achieving the same level of success and respect in the fashion world as he has done in his seemingly unstoppable music career.  When it comes to Kanye the designer, although i've seen the occasional pictures from his previous fashion shows pop up on my Tumblr dashboard, I was usually far more taken with the strikingly beautiful models and the gorgeous hair sported by some of them, than by Kanye's sartorial offerings. But this time round I had Tidal (still haven't unsubscribed, welp) and they were live streaming Yeezy Season 4, supposedly from 7pm GMT. I was curious to see how many Black women had ended up being booked for the show and had nothing else to do so decided i'd give it a watch...

What feels like 18 hours later, the show actually began. What I assumed at the time was an elaborate performance piece re: models sitting down and having to drink water as well as tripping down the catwalk, turned out to be genuine production blunders caused by heat exposure and tiny, faulty, foot crippling and hideous shoes. Even with all this drama going on I found myself bored, waiting for inspiration. It never came cos that collection was drier than Riveta!    

If I was trying to describe the collection to someone lucky enough to have avoided seeing any of it i'd say 'bootleg American Apparel meets Home Alone meets 1990s Manchester' because it was a borefest of Winter body con and parkas. Don't know where the hideous boots fit in, i'll have to have a think about that...

Wtf is this?

The only mildly redeeming looks i can remember were these 2...

... And the second one was mainly just because the model looked so good!

I really would love to meet Kanye while he's surrounded by the 'YES' crowd who must surely be present every time he expresses an idea because I feel like a world where anyone who thinks this collection is good should be an alternate one... Far far away from me. The resources and connections that must be available to you when you possess Kanye levels of star power and wealth are unfathomable to me... And yet this is his offering?! These are the fruits of his boundless creative genius and team?! Where is the innovation?! Where is the DESIGN?!? Imagine what emerging designers with actual talent could create if they had Kanye's resources! A quick google of his previous collections showed me that this is pretty much just more of the same and there has been no real conceptual evolution... In fact Yeezy Season 3 was marginally more interesting.

Love seeing melanin on the catwalk and it was nice to see two of my faves, Grace Bol and Chanel Iman, walk in the show, but model choices aside, I really wish people would stop drinking the Kanye Fashion Kool Aid... But I guess until his fans are ready to stop paying £70 for Kanye Gildan t-shirts that's never going to happen!

I will be passing on Yeezy Season 5.
Drag over xx

(Title = lyrics to 'Runaway' by Kanye West)

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Something Happened On The Day He Died, Spirit Rose a Metre and Stepped Aside, Somebody Else Took His Place and Bravely Cried- I'm a Blackstar (My 5 Etsy Shop Picks)

Over the last few years i've really developed a soft spot for Etsy! If you're not yet familiar with it, Etsy hosts millions of independent online boutiques selling handmade and vintage items. The site is most popular for the fantastic handmade jewellery and high quality, genuine vintage clothing on offer.

Here are my five favourite Etsy shops at the moments...

  • Dronning Vintage Based in California (USA) this is one of the prettiest and most successful dress shops on Etsy! If you love genuine vintage clothing and have a thing for the 1940s - 1960s in particular like I do, this is the shop for you!


  • MarcusKwame is a New York (USA) based artist with a fantastic array of prints for sale through his Etsy store. Touching work with a focus on the African American experience.

  • Dig For Victory A Brighton (England) based dress shop with a twist... Stunning one of a kind vintage style dresses (mainly 1950s) made using vintage and end of roll fabrics.

  • Peace Images Stunning handmade jewellery from Georgia (USA). Bold designs, beautifully made with a focus on Africa.

  • StormySeasUK shop owner Liz is a Brighton (UK) based illustrator known for her unique and quirky drawing style.

So those are my Etsy shop picks for today... I had to stop at 5 cos I really could go on and on- could make a pretty extensive list of fabulous Etsy artists/illustrators alone!! Etsy is so huge with so many great sellers i'll probably come back to share some more with you at a later date. 

Also drop by my Etsy Bank Holiday Flash Sale for 20% all full priced items until tomorrow (Tuesday 1st June) at 8pm gmt. Worldwide shipping at pretty cheap rates xx

(Title = lyrics to 'Blackstar' by David Bowie)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

I Looked Into Myself Like A Case With You, You Don't Weigh Me Down Like You Think You Do... (Are IG Baddies the unsung beauty trendsetters of this generation?)

 This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and stumbled upon this article from UK Vogue titled 'How Fake Lashes Got Cool', accompanied by a picture of a young woman called Sarah Snyder who i'd never heard of until I made the mistake of clicking through and reading the article. Apparently she is Jayden Smith's girlfriend. If you do not wish to read it, the bones of the short article (which admittedly is just a thinly veiled advertisement for a few brands of false lashes Vogue is pushing) are that this fresh faced, skinny white blonde girl wears fake eyelashes all the time and this is apparently cool, new and trendsetting of her because she usually wears otherwise simple makeup, unlike the 'perma-tan girls in body con dresses' with whom false lashes are apparently traditionally associated with. So non-orange white girls take note- the false lash stigma is now gone- go and buy some!

Sarah Snyder and her 'trendsetting' fale lashes

I don't know what it is that got to me about this piece in particular. After all, misattributing the popularity of beauty and fashion trends to white girls is absolutely nothing new and happens in these types of publications all the time- Kylie Jenner being the most obvious recent example, having single handedly started wigs and invented lips. But even for sloppy western fashion media this is a hot ass mess. There are sooooooo many Black girls who wear false lashes as part of their everyday look now that you can visit any high school with Black students in attendance and see half the girls rocking falsies. The lash revolution was massive and it happened years ago with the introduction of semi permanent lashes and the growing popularity of eyelash enhancement that meant a better offering of affordable falsies becoming available on the high street. The pioneering make-up whizz's popularising them in everyday looks for ordinary women aren't invisible online either- they're pretty much running Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr, Twitter and any other social media platform you can think of, attracting droves of followers in the process and they are regularly Beat. To. Absolute. Perfection. I'm talking about: beat hair, beat nails, beat clothes, beat makeup- beat lashes and beat selfies...

Instagram @sonjdradeluxe

Instagram @heathersanders 

Instagram @itsreesiie 

Instagram +ItsMyRayeRaye 

Instagram +msroshposh 

Instagram @jomichelleartistry

  I think what really riled me about the story was that it described Sarah Snyder as 'one Instagram IT-girl that is giving falsies a fresh approach'. Oh please! False lashes aren't in need of a fresh approach. Beat Black girls on IG are already serving fresh lash look after fresh lash look, from the dramatic to the subtle. The Beat Black girl look is just not palatable enough for Vogue for them to advertise false lashes off the back of it. The Beat Black girl look is assumed to be off-putting to Vogue's readers. The Beat Black Girl is not 'cool'. I checked the Cambridge Online Dictionary for the definition of 'cool'. The 3rd entry was 'fashionably attractive or impressive' and the synonyms included: 'trendy', 'funky', 'happening' and 'in'. Spearheaded by Black women, Instagram Baddies are arguably some of the most influential and copied girls on the scene. They wield huge consumer power through their large audiences and many even have their own lines of make-up and eyelashes. I try to limit the time I spend looking at their accounts because my self-esteem is low enough already welp!, but who is more 'fashionably attractive' and 'happening' (lol, that phrase reminds me of my mum), more 'trendy' than the beat Black IG baddie who has grown herself a loyal following of 100,000+ people? This is a movement that has happened outside the rigid rules of what is in Vogue (ha). Carving out a niche for themselves that caters to audiences who fall outside the parameters of skinny whiteness. Vogue went so far as to write their own set of style rules for how false lashes should be worn- 'Keep it simple and leave the contour kit for another day'... OK then, thanks... Not so subtle shade duly noted!

For Vogue and other white publications, the image of a Cool Black Girl is a narrow and controlled one that comes in the form of women and girls like: Willow Smith, Amandla Stenberg, Solange Knowles and Zoe Kravitz. Obvious colourism aside (something that I know is also problematic within IG baddie culture as well... But that is another issue for another time), fashion and beauty wise these people all fit into the Vogue paradigm of coolness. Don't get me wrong, I like all those women, but through no fault of their own they make for easy reference points when it comes to featuring a token ethnic. Vogue would probably rather close down tomorrow than do a piece like this using Blac Chyna as their credited source of trendsetting beauty inspiration. Yet Black women such as Blac Chyna, Amber Rose and many others continue to lead the way in what's popular in beauty and hair, never managing to escape the labels of 'ratchet' and 'ghetto' that plague Black women while the white girls they inspire go on to be branded cool and trendsetting by Vogue, Elle and countless other fashion and lifestyle publications.

Now unlike with braids and certain styles of dress, I have no qualms with white people wearing false lashes. Why would I? False lashes are for everyone who wants to wear them and they are certainly worn cross culturally to stunning effect. I'm just saying that in an age where people power is exposing beauties and make-up talents who are setting the beauty agenda of so many women, it's time to start giving credit where credit is due... Sarah Snyder is behind the trend, not the leader of it... But I suppose this is a bit of a water is wet post. Point is... The jig is up Vogue. The 'eye-lash renaissance' already happened, you just weren't a part of it! xx

(P.S. Title = lyrics to 'Choose Me' from James Blake's incredible new album The Colour In Anything)

**I don't own any of the images used in this post. They are featured for the purpose of observation only. If you own any of the photos and would like to have them removed, please e-mail me and I will do so**

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Dance To The Big Big Beat, Dance To The Big Big Beat (Why I'm Not Giving Up On Azealia Banks)

Please note- due to the overwhelming response to this post I am unable to post any more of the comments left before today (15/05/16)- even after the comments I have already deleted there are over 50 comments still awaiting moderation and although I know that many of them are thoughtful comments and critiques, I am unwilling to filter out all the racism that has been sent to get to them. Sorry if you wrote a decent comment! 

**There is some racial language used in this piece that some readers may find upsetting.**

I don't usually write pieces like this here, I guess this blog is fairly light-hearted in that sense, possibly to a fault. But the events of the last two days have had me thinking far too much to not write this piece. You'll have to excuse my writing style, I know it's not the easiest to read.

As i'm sure most of you are aware, Azealia Banks went on another one of her Twitter tirades last night. This time against ex- One Direction heartthrob turned solo artist Zayn Malik. The beef started with Azealia pointing out the apparent similarities between his new music video and one of her own music videos. She received some nasty and racist abuse from Zayn fans, as we've come to expect from his hardcore, mostly young, 1D fandom. Then Zayn responded with his own tweets (which he later denied being directed at Azealia at all what is the truth?!?!?)and what followed was an unexpected racist tirade from Banks using many homophobic and racist slurs. I'm not gonna write what she said here, i'm assuming if you have access to this post, you also have access to Google, but it was pure bile.

Now I know that in recent years Azealia has become more well known for her Twitter rants than for her songs (which is a shame because a lot of them are absolute bangers), but why aren't we talking about this woman's mental health? I'm no expert on Azealia Banks and i'm certainly not a mental health expert either, but it seems clear that she needs help. And soon. I can only assume that the Angry Black Woman trope that has plagued Azealia's career is responsible for the lack of attention that has been given to the downward spiral she appears to be on. When Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes went through their issues, discussions about their mental health were at the core of media reporting. While it was a disgusting circus in both cases, it was accepted, as a given, that there was more at play.

 Although Azealia has been pulled up for homophobic language in the past (which at one point she apologised for, an apology it seems she has doubled back on), she has been outspoken about white supremacy and cultural appropriation and was a proud, self-proclaimed 'pro Black girl'. She was angry, yes, but rightfully angry... As many Black people are. She took Igloo Australia to task. She called out racism and colorism in hip hop, the music industry and the media in general. She didn't mince her words and her fiercely pro-Black stance did not endear her to the Western media. A Black woman like Azealia doesn't fit into a box. In a society that refuses to accept the idea of multiplicity in the Black identity, you cannot be a pro-Black, long purple weave wearing, festival rocking, outspoken, alternative, flower crown wearing, crude lyrics spitting, dark skinned Black woman. Those things cannot exist within the same person.

The point of alllll this is that, as is the case with so many Black women, the angry, evil Black bitch narrative does not allow her public persona any hint of vulnerability. Everything she says and does is taken as evidence of how animalistic and uncivilised she is. The unpredictable and uncontrollable Black woman. The bad Black woman held up in the media as an example to the world of the kind of Black woman society doesn't need and shouldn't accept. If we cannot see vulnerability than we do not need to admit that there is a possibility that someone is struggling with their mental health. Even if there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the claim. The notion of vulnerability is confined to whiteness, to women like Britney and Amanda. Not dark skinned Black women who have been openly critical of white society.

When I first saw what Azealia had been tweeting to Zayn Malik and later Skai Jackson and others, I had the same knee jerk reaction as most people. I condemned her and felt disappointed and betrayed. 'She's gone to far now' I thought 'the point of no return'. But then I started thinking about things more critically. I referred back to the inspiring things she used to say. I wondered how a woman who used to make so many spot on observations about race and power in the western world could have fallen into extremely racist and homophobic internet trolling. How can she could be endorsing Donald Trump for president when she used to mock him? How she can she be tweeting that she was bleaching her skin because she is tired of watching other light skinned celebrities get ahead? How could she be arguing with a 14 year old black girl and making horrible and personal comments about them?

This is a tired Black woman. A publicly vilified Black woman. A Black woman who has endured both subtle and overt racism throughout her entire career. A talented Black woman who has been overlooked and dismissed. A beautiful Black Woman. And clearly, a vulnerable Black woman.

White society grinds down the self-esteem of Black women and then hangs us out for our public crucifixion when we finally snap. I truly believe that Azealia needs help and support and as PoC we owe it to her and to ourselves to protect that outside of the hideous white narrative that is trying to destroy her (google it, look at how these articles are being written, look at the pictures of her most of them are using). When we abandon Black women like Azealia Banks we engage in the work of white supremacy. I for one am not trying to do that, even when it appears that trauma and underlying mental health issues are manifesting themselves in such a horrible way!

These words of Malcolm X were bought back into public discussion recently when Beyonce featured the on her visual album 'Lemonade', they feel all too relevant here today xx

Monday, 25 April 2016

You're Just a Sinner I am Told, Be Your Fire When You're Cold, Make You Happy When You're Sad, Make You Good When You Are Bad...

The news of Prince's death really shocked and saddened me, as i'm sure it did many of you. I can remember dancing round the living room with my dad blasting I Would Die 4 U through our stereo. Prince was probably one of the most musical individuals ever to walk the Earth. Talented, funky to the bone, innovative, uncompromising, experimental and so stylish... I could reel off many cliches but i'll leave that to the journalists. Rest In Power Prince!!! <3

For those of you who missed my announcement- I HAD MY BABY! Hence the longggggg gap between posts- being a mama is no joke!! Little Arthur was born in September and is a very beautiful little boy as you will see. I think the weirdest thing about 2015 is that it was consumed unexpectedly by impending motherhood... So a year I assumed I'd spend partying with my friends and getting my life on track turned into a year where I spent the first quarter sleeping, the second quarter trying to attend events with the 'I don't need to drink to have fun' attitude- then failing to leave my house, the third quarter waddling down the road with achy popping hips, unable to fit into anything and crying a lot of the time and the fourth quarter looking after a beautiful newborn baby boy... And yes, it really is as time consuming as people make out!

I really wanted to write about the birth of my son as soon as it happened because birth is such a strange and unique experience and I wanted to get all the detail I could remember in about how it actually felt. I didn't really get the chance in the end but I wrote bits and pieces and i'm going to try and piece it all together now, whist he's lying down next to me asleep. Please note that this will be a warts and all account (**If you're not interested in reading about birth i'd skip to the cute pictures at the end of the post**)

The Birth

It was a cold Thursday evening and I decided I was ready to give birth. My back was aching and I was becoming increasingly fed up of waiting to get it all over with. I know it's common for women to be scared and squeamish about giving birth for the first time, but I was truly petrified. I'd decided I was going to have the baby at the local hospital birthing centre and try to see the whole thing through in a birthing pool... Which I thought i'd eventually have to jump out of as i'd want, no, NEED, more pain medication than was permitted with a water birth. I still hadn't packed my hospital bag as I assumed i'd just throw whatever bits I needed together during early labour. Determined not to spend another day pregnant and nervous I informed my boyfriend that I was going to try and induce labour. I ordered us some Indian food- after much deliberation I decided to take the plunge and ordered a prawn madras, one of the spiciest dishes on the menu. While I ate the curry I complained to my boyfriend that I didn't think it was hot enough to get things moving so decided to give things another boost by eating a tin of chopped pineapples. Spicy food and pineapple are up there with the most recommended things to eat to induce labour and although they don't have any medical backing, about an hour later I started feeling cramping in my stomach.

Now as i'd had similar cramps the few days prior, I really wasn't sure to make of them. As the discomfort increased I started to pace to and fro trying to decipher whether or not I was in the very early stages of labour. I had downloaded an app that times contractions and warned my boyfriend that he might need to be using it in a few hours time. Yet nothing was really jumping out to me as a definite sign of labour. I was uncomfortable and a little warm but I still couldn't be sure what was going on. About two hours after eating the curry my tummy was really starting to become uncomfortable and I was heating up. I was still unsure whether or not I was in early labour, so to take my mind off the pain we decided to lie down on the bed and watch a bit of Luther. However lying down was uncomfortable and everything my partner was doing to try and help me just added to my discomfort. He'd try and give me a back rub and it would make me squirm and I felt so fidgety that I kept coming and going from the toilet.

The next part is unclear in terms of time scale because I was starting to feel really nauseas and I was visiting the bathroom for longer and longer periods of time. I remember vomiting and reporting to Benn that I wouldn't be having another baby as the whole thing was just too much. Words which I said anticipating another 6-10 hours of pain. I decided it was time to find out what was going on, so sat on the cold bathroom tiles, with my head in the toilet bowl, I called the midwife at the birth centre. Unsure of what to say and feeling like a rung out piece of cloth I said something like 'I'm pregnant and not sure whether or not i'm in early labour'. What followed was a relatively frustrating conversation for both of us- the midwife trying her hardest to ascertain what my symptoms were and me trying to articulate that I didn't really know what was going on other than the fact I was in pain and had vomited. As I was experiencing a 'wall of pain' rather than distinct periods that I could confidently label as 'contractions', I was told to monitor myself and call back later as it was unlikely that I was actually in labour. A few minutes later I had rejoined my boyfriend to try and watch more Luther but had to stagger back to the bathroom as I felt a huge wave of nausea. As I threw up in the toilet I felt a gush down my legs. Although I considered that my waters might have broken, it seemed more likely that i'd wet myself as by this point I was just a dizzy, nauseas mess but to be on the safe side I decided it would be best to call the midwife again. This time I was quite clear that I wanted to visit the hospital to see if I was in labour and the midwife agreed that I should come in, though she told me i'd probably be sent home again for a few hours until I was in active labour. After this phone call I told my boyfriend that we'd need to go to the hospital within the next hour or two.

The spanner in the works was this- I really didn't want to poop during labour... And remember i'd had a spicy curry for my tea... So before leaving the house I was absolutely determined that i'd do any grim, spicy poos at home before having any medical professionals poke around inside my vagina. And so for about the next half hour I went back and forth from Benn watching Luther to the toilet trying to poop. It was a really odd sort've feeling- I was so sure I needed to poop but so unable to produce anything. Anyway to cut an excessively gross scene short it turned out it wasn't a poop I was pushng out but the baby! I was crouched over on all fours at the sink when I realised something was really going on and a quick investigation with my hand lead me to the realisation that my baby was on his way out. I screeched and called Benn and as calmly as I could manage, asked him to have a look between my legs to see what was going on. Benn was horrified and not only declined but left the room and started insisting that he pack my bag (I know, I know- who hasn't packed their back this late in their pregnancy?!) and we walk round to the hospital. What followed was a film worthy scene of Benn: stressing, chucking 5 pairs of knickers at me through the door and chastising me for not saying that we needed to have gone to the hospital ages ago.

 Unfortunately I could tell that the hospital portion of the evening was not going to happen in time. I felt another weird wave of pressure and the urge to push some more. A quick feel with my hand revealed what I feared, a body part of the baby was coming through... I'd thought i'd have at least another 3 hours to wait but Arthur had decided not to wait another minute. I screeched Benn again (who was still insisting we go to the hospital to have the baby, LOL) but this time I told him to call an ambulance. He rang the ambulance and stood white as a sheet at the bathroom door. A few pushes later and it felt like Arthur was just hanging out. I was a little worried because I couldn't really see what was going on. I could just feel this large, fleshy mass in between my legs. Starting to become worried I asked him what everything looked like, I can remember Benn saying 'he's coming, he's coming'. With the next push I reached down and just sorta pulled him out onto the floor. I whipped him round to my front, the chord was wrapped round his neck so I tugged it loose. And there he was. Puffy and very white and purply blue. In that moment he didn't look real at all. He cried a little and I clutched him to my chest, our landlord came and wrapped a towel round him and wiped his face. The 999 telephone operator gave us 00.06am as the official time of Arthur's birth- roughly only about 3 hours after the whole thing had begun!

The ambulance people arrived to a scene of me butt naked, crouching in a pool of blood, clinging onto my little purple baby and Benn standing (just about) looking through the door, too overwhelmed to come in. They came in, cut the chord and dressed Arthur. They wanted us to go to the hospital quite quickly and kept instructing me to put a bag together and put some clothes on. I know I must've been out of it cos even with everyone having filed out of the room I was stuck dawdling around, picking up different items of clothing and then discarding them on the floor. In the end I think I just went in a big top, dressing gown and some granny panties to wrap the umbilical chord round so it would stop dragging across the floor, gross. Everyone on the street seemed to be out to have a look at what was going on, everything seemed so surreal. During the short ambulance ride to the hospital everyone was quiet. Me and Benn exchanged a few smiles and I felt that dreaded crampy pain returning.

I think the delivery of the afterbirth was actually worse than delivering Arthur! I hated the hospital bed and my midwife wasn't exactly the nicest to put it lightly. No one told me how trippy gas and air is, that was a nice surprise! I puffed heavily away on it and looked over my shoulder at Benn who was sat holding our bubs and looking down lovingly at him. The midwife poked and prodded my bits as she implored me to push harder and i'm pretty sure I was laughing in a drug induced hysteria as she tugged on my umbilical chord, yanking the afterbirth out... A wholly unpleasant and uncomfortable experience.

I ended up with a few stitches (which was also more scary than birth, I still get flash backs about that) and having to stay in the hospital for a few days.  I have lots more to say about Arthur and motherhood but i'll save that for later...

Benn and Arthur a few hours after he was born

My mum holding Arthur, he's a few days old here

I think Arthur was about 5 months old in this one

I'm gonna add more photos of Arthur to the post so check back on this post over the next few days if you're interested in seeing more recent pics but I just wanna get this up before I start thinking about sleep! 

Also, lots of new stuff on my Etsy and a lot more to be added over the next week so do have a lil look if you're into vintage clothing My Etsy Shop xx