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The Skin I’m In

Author:

By Anna Hill

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Trigger Warning – Self Harm

Since I was born I’ve had eczema – a skin condition I still can’t spell, that leaves me with itchy, red, dry patches of skin in various different areas. When I was younger it was much worse, more of my skin was covered in the bumpy patches – behind my knees, my ears, the inside of my elbows and so on. The constant scratching and obvious red areas made me very shy of showing my body in any capacity, and I would hate specifically showing my arms. The skin between my forearm and my upper arm was the worst, particularly in summer. I would often scratch until I bled and the whole cycle made me feel ashamed. The eczema sometimes got so bad that I would have matching bumpy red, bleeding skin behind my knees and my elbows, all at the same time.

It was so obvious my skin was angry, it was writhing with anger, just under the surface. It was so evident inside me, around me, irritating me. I had so much restless energy, which ultimately led to more itching. My itching was never commented on explicitly but it was always present, implicit in the glances and the stares of my teachers, classmates and adults who I came into contact with. The feeling I got after I had itched – namely pain, after some satisfaction at first, forced me to be anchored to my body, and so did the glances at the patches on my skin. Not only is it dull, but it is very tough to be present, only so far as the confines of your body, to the landscape of our physical selves rather than the present where the world exists both internally and externally.

One of the reasons why eczema made me feel so insecure, was that it was not discrete. Whilst I felt my friends were growing up daintily (which in hindsight is not true), and had pretty skin (to me they always looked nice even when it was dotted with spots), I imagined myself as a tomato. The redness of my skin wasn’t helped either by the fact that I too am a blusher. My whole body was red, it was a walking wound sometimes and I felt like my weeping skin took up too much space.

After a while I started to see that my skin became alive with that itching feeling – you know the one, that little tickle starts and once you give in you’re gone – especially when I was stressed. During my G.C.S.Es not only was I very stressed but I also itched a lot, and then I realised that my skin was more raw (because I made it that way – even when I was sleeping) during that time I made the connection.

It went further than just stress being a trigger for it though later on, and although it took a while, I excavated my pain and my pressure in a way that made sense on my skin. It’s difficult when you have a skin condition that actually shows those around you your feelings. My anger and my stress all come through on my skin, and undoubtedly they still will, because I have a diagnosed skin condition. But it is what the stress and the anger are directed at is what I want to change. The further I went into my ruins the more I understood that a lot of the reason I continued to itch was to punish myself. It was to show myself that I was angry, angry at the world that hurt me and told me being queer was wrong, and also at myself for failing to live up to my impossible standards in life and school. I felt guilty for all these things. I felt my anger was not allowed – I was a girl, I was supposed to be pretty, sweet, kind and mostly importantly have soft skin. I wasn’t supposed to be covered in red scars and full of a yearning to burst out of my skin. To peel away all the bad skin and be shiny and new born.

When I itch now I recall all that itching that I did when I was angry and frustrated at life and myself. I recall all those times I did it to inflict pain, or to inflict any type of feeling on myself. The repetitive action of itching is very difficult to get away from and when I look at my body now I often feel like I look like a wound, my body is a visible reminder that I hurt, that I felt pain, that I damaged myself. That my trauma bleeds out of me, visible to everyone that looks at me.

But is this thinking helpful to me now? My skin will always be bumpy and itchy, so is it helpful to talk about it in the context of self-harm? Does the way I talk about it reinforce the pain, and the cycle of tearing at my skin? Leslie Jamison, in The Empathy Exams, wrote that “[her] feelings were also made of the way [she] spoke them”. It is a constant balance between the “state of submission” to feelings and thoughts and the “process of constructing” them.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to approach not only my eczema but my whole body with more compassion, with more understanding. I could completely accept my interpretation of my actions – that they stem from a place of hatred, but then it would be too easy for me to continue to hate, to continue to despair at myself, and thus punish myself when I fail all the more. Instead I want to make a home for myself in my self. Regardless of how aesthetically pleasing my body is, it is mine. It is the only constant home I will ever have and it will be with me my whole life. It’s presence facilitates a lot of what I do – my fingers typing these words for example – and so my goal is not to be perfect in treating my body, it is to be kinder to it. My body is not just made of scars and it is easier to remember that when I attempt to be kind, in little ways and big ways. I aim to be less angry at myself and at my red bumps, to be less frustrated when I fail to reach an academic goal, to be kinder when I do mess up. I aim to accept the skin I’m in rather than revolt against it.

 

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If you are interested in hearing more about self harm from a young person, go here.

If you want to know more about self-harm, go here.

Queer Kids

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I’ve been having a hard time recently – a mix of deadlines and stress, and bad anniversaries all happening in the past few weeks. I tell you this because something that has helped me get through things is the wonderful and inspiring friendships that I have made.

This time last year, when I was dealing with similar if not almost exactly the same things – exams and pressure, and grief and mourning – I was so alone. I was so tied up in myself and in my issues and I also just hadn’t found “my” people yet. Thinking back to last year is really difficult because I had such a difficult time with everything and I tried to pretend I was fine and I piled on yet more pressure. I couldn’t sleep and was having panic attacks regularly and my counselling was not helping. I was stuck on an idea of myself which I could not reach and thus punished myself for it. I punished and punished and punished. It was a cycle of do more, feel bad for not being able to do it, so more anxiety, more stress and repeat. Something really clicked when someone said to me “sleep deprivation is a form of torture.” I tortured myself. I did, and the bruised bags under my eyes have never been so deep. I hurt so badly but I didn’t let up. I kept pushing and pushing and hurting and hurting and rock bottom doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I’ve never been very good at finding people who love and accept me. When I was younger I felt very alienated from my classmates and I don’t think I ever really found a group of people that saw me. (Excluding two wonderful old friends) I think that’s why it’s been so different now – now I know what it’s like to have full open people love me, I realised what I was missing.

Luckily for me, my family helped to support me and various other things happened that helped me get back onto my feet a little last year. But it’s a process, it’s constant recovery, constant motion in one direction or another. I don’t want to slimpify the process, but the friendships that I formed in August and September of this year have been utterly beautiful and they have made me feel seriously loved and understood. Without my new friends I would not be as happy as I am now, and I would not be able to get through these awful things.

One of the things this process is teaching me is that with understanding of yourself comes self-love and with self-love comes a better comprehension of others which makes it so much easier to love them. I am (constantly) working on being kind to myself and this makes it easier to be nice to others. My friendships can be deeper and fuller and more profound because I am more aware of how imperfect we all are, and how crucially, that. Is. okay.

Loving yourself opens you up to love, in both directions.

If you’re looking for friends who help you lift yourself out of the dirt, then I suggest that you:

  • Be honest with yourself and with your friends, even if it makes you scared and vulnerable. Friends that you make when you are vulnerable are strong because you are deep in your wounds with them and that means they are present with you.
  • Find out what you are passionate about and go for it!! Apply for stuff, I found many ace friends through applying to be a Powered By Girl Blogger, but we are also in similar facebook groups for No More Page Three and the like. So do things! The internet is vastly helpful for this, so I would definitely recommend it.
  • Work on feeling your feelings and moving through them in a way that allows you to feel bad/good/sad/etc whenever you like. It’s so much easier to talk to people if you yourself know where you are.
  • Get some therapy, if you can. This is particularly helpful if, like me and the majority of my new friends, you are in Recovery from some thing. Although I understand it’s a privilege to have time and money for therapy and in some cases it can just be terrible because of bigoted and prejudiced therapists, it is also very useful. However, if someone tells you that Queerness is not okay, or that your gender is the one you were assigned and not the one you chose, then leave and don’t go back.
  • Practice self-care – if you are going out and doing things to find people then that’s great! Just make sure to keep some time for yourself, so that you can always keep in touch with what you want, how you feel and enjoy time by yourself. As much as I want to live in a Queer Feminist Commune with all my Queer Kids, we will all need time alone, to recharge. Have fun, masturbate, or read a book, light candles and have a bath, dance to Beyoncé (<3), bake cookies, watch a film, go on adventures, do art, the possibilities are endless.
  • If you are Queer (like many of us at PBG are), or non conforming in anyway, then I would recommend seeking out people who are like you – who have the same sexuality as your or the same world view or the same difficulty with gender (for example if you are Non-Binary). The fact that the majority of my new friends are Queer has helped me accept who I am and also means I feel like I have people to turn to and who immediately accept/understand me rather than constantly having to explain myself.

I hope these suggestions help you all find the beautiful, interesting, exciting and creative people that will love to have you as a friends!

I shall leave you with some lovely, if banal anecdotes:

  • One time when Becky and I met up we wrote our speeches together and then she proceeded to try to take a photo of a squirrel and put her palm flat out as a way of asking to stop a jogger from keeping jogging (it didn’t work).
  • Cora and I went to see First Aid Kit in concert and before hand we covered ourselves in glitter (I had golden eyebrows!!) and talked about how to commemorate bad anniversaries.
  • Becky, Cora, Sophia and I had a sleepover that included an amazing blue ombre cake and Feminist Cards Against Humanity.
  • I went with Becky, Cora, Sophia and Yas to the Houses of Parliament dressed in a tie dyed tablecloth (I tie dyed it myself) because I had slept over. We all agreed I looked fab.
  • Sometimes when I think of them all my heart gets too big and I feel like im in a swimming pool of love and it’s the cheesiest thing but it is the best thing ever too and I want to stay in that pool forever until I wrinkle up like an old prune and they have to drag me out (even then I’d want to go back in).
  • The first time Becky, Sophia, Cora and I met in person, we all started talking about our therapy. We were open with each other about ourselves and that has meant that our friendship is some of the purest I have ever experienced.
  • We went to the Southbank Centre and into the Tunnel of Love and Yas and I took photos in those head hole carboard things. It was silly and fun.
  • On my mirror at the moment I have collected some quotes from my friends to help me get through. One is something that Cora said to me: “You are brilliant and there is no measure for that”, and I’ve also written some wisdom from Sophia which encapsulates this time right now: “Whatever it is, it’s not what it was and that matters. That’s a big deal because it proves that things can and will improve with time”.

The Emily Tree!

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On Saturday 27th September, Anna, Becky and Cora went along to The Emily Tree‘s march and picnic. They had an amazing time, and wanted to share it all with PBG!

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What is the Emily Tree and why is it a good group?

Becky – The Emily Tree is a group based in London that’s working to get more young women involved with politics.

Cora – I think what’s great about the Emily Tree is how open and accessible it is – it’s easy for young people to feel really removed from feminism for any number of reasons and the Emily Tree smashes them all!

Anna – Definitely, it’s non-academic, teenage girl based. It’s fun and exciting and creative and was created by two really inspiring funny women.

Becky – Yeah, it’s really, really inclusive as well, which is amazing – it’s feminism for everyone, not just for the privileged.

Anna – Which is SO NICE, because lots of organisations for teens can be patronising, or just don’t listen to us.

Becky – And the people who run it are two of the best people in the world ever.

Screen shot 2014-10-01 at 16.06.14What happened during the day, and what were the best parts? 

Becky – It started off with a march, which we didn’t get to.

Anna – Very sad about that! But Cora got to go!! And she brought us sashes!!

Cora – The march was brilliant! We sang, laughed, and definitely caught the attention of quite a few passers-by. We even got a car horn beep!!

Becky – Oh wow! It sounds amazing, gutted to have missed it. But it was really cool to see you all walking towards us in the park, this sea of purple/green/white with signs! After we’d eaten, there were a ton of speakers, who were all very amazing and inspirational.

Anna – Definitely! And Becky and I were lucky enough to speak! Becky was amazing!!! And listening to all the other campaign leaders and young women was just fab!

Becky- Thank you so much Anna! You were super fab too. You made us very proud.

Anna – One of my fave moments was when Cora was walking towards Becky and I and we just ran and hugged her/squished her! I also enjoyed the fact that people came up and told me they found my speech good, because public speaking is a fear of mine and so I was really proud I did it! And then also just feeling incredibly inspired and happy about all the young women there!

Cora – I think for me the best part was the two of you speaking! I swelled up with pride honestly because I know it took a lot. You two are amazing.

Becky – Yeah, it was so good to see you both!! I really enjoyed getting to meet so many amazing people, and to hear some really powerful speeches. And I agree with you Anna, getting to speak was such a huge thing, I felt really proud to have had a chance to share my thoughts with the group. It also meant a lot that people told me they thought it was good and inspiring, as I was so inspired by everyone else. Anna and I agreed at the end it was like a circle of inspiration!!

Cora – There were so many incredible people- speakers and attendees generally, I left feeling super inspired!!

Anna – Yeah!! I also loved being INSIDE the Emily Tree. It was like I was a Dryad.

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Becky – Firstly, in a general way, because it was getting young women talking about feminism, and getting them to speak to people who are campaigning around important issues.

Cora – It really brought the issues to the public too, we did attract a lot of attention!

Becky – Yeah, the march was such a good idea.

Anna – I also think it was just so important to have a safe fun space to help rejuvenate everyone so we can go out and CHANGE THE WORLD.

Becky – Definitely!! Personally, I found it really moving and empowering- I have to admit that I was very near tears at points. It’s really easy to feel alone as a feminist (as I spoke about in my speech) and the whole day was a reminder that we are not alone at all.

Cora – It was a real reminder of both how much and how little has changed- so many of the suffragette values are still very relevant.

Becky – Completely agree with you Cora – everyone thinks that the suffragettes have come and gone, but yesterday was such a huge reminder that they haven’t – their legacy stays, and we are continuing their work. Emily matters!!

Anna – Yes!!!!

What would you say to other people who might have a chance to do a similar thing?

Becky – I would say definitely, definitely do it!! Even if it’s a three hour coach journey, it is so unbelievably worth it. Honestly.

Anna – Definitely agree!! And there is no pressure to speak or anything it’s just about celebrating girls as they are, and even if you are scared of people (like me!) I would recommend it! Maybe bring a friend though!

Cora – I think any chance to get involved in campaigning should be pursued – the sense of community and cohesion was great! It’s such a valuable experience to have had, we’re very lucky!

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Are you planning to do anything as a result of it, either now or in the future?

Becky – Well, I’ve already contacted the 50:50 parliament campaign youth group, so I’m getting involved with that! And hopefully the No More Page 3 group as well. Would be great to link in with #emilymatters too.

Anna – Yeah! I just want to do all of the things!

Becky – Same here!!

Cora – For sure, keep on keeping on! This year’s been incredible so far, and every event like this I go to seems to offer another tonne of opportunities. It’s overwhelming really, in the best possible way.

Anna – I’m already so excited for next year!

Becky – Yeah, there’s loads planned, and it’s all very exciting.

Anna – I want to get more involved in the NMP3 stuff and just keep going strong as a PBG writer.

Becky – That’s great Anna!! It just generally helped empower me more, and kind of gave me a space to rejuvenate a bit, so I’m even more determined than ever. And yes!!!!! Totally agree with you there Anna, it’s made me want to do more of the talking stuff!!! As well as that I was really interested in what Jane Ellison, the MP, said about getting involved. I might write to my local MP and see if I can get an internship or opportunity of some kind.

Anna – Yeah! Talking to MPs is great and I didn’t realise it’s actually quite easy.

Cora – Definitely want to pursue that! It sounds much simpler to get in touch with MPs than I’d imagined, and it’s got the potential to be both useful and game-changing! Girls inside Parliament is brilliant as a statement in itself.

Alice and Anna Discuss Make Up

Author:

By Alice Koski and Anna Hill

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For many women, make up is a normal part of everyday life; in fact, the average woman in the UK wears make up for 341 day of the year. And whilst make up certainly seems like a positive force – for giving women confidence, for being an art, for giving us control over our image – it is definitely not without its problems. The double standards it creates, the pressure it puts on women to look perfect, the industry itself… to name just a few.

With this in mind, we’re tackling the subject of make up by answering and discussing the following five questions together. Here we go!

How were you introduced to make up? When did you start wearing it?

Alice – I was a complete tomboy from the ages of about 7 to 12, and had never wanted anything to do with makeup. It wasn’t until my second year of secondary school that I started to take an interest. My introduction to make up began with a cheap eyeliner from Boots, my mum’s old mascara and a lot of mistakes! Myself and my friends bonded over make up – there were many experiments and many disasters (I’m remembering like the time a fake eyelash got stuck on my real ones!). Make up was one of the things we learnt about together and I definitely count it as a good (bar the false eyelash incident!) experience.

Anna – That’s really cool! I had a similar experience, particularly with the whole tomboy thing at the beginning, and then in Year Seven when I changed friendship groups and I “got into” make up. It was fine, although I think I went with it more to fit in than because I actually enjoyed wearing it, and I still have no real understanding of make up so maybe that’s why. I also actually remember being sort of bullied by these girls who wanted to give me a “makeover” and then tried to make me look like a panda, and I didn’t know how to take it off, so I felt really humiliated. Luckily my now best friend helped me to get it off, but after that I stopped hanging out with them or wearing much make up.

Alice – That sounds awful! Year 7 is a weird time because it’s such a big transition.

Anna – Year seven 7 was a very very tough year for me! I think it must have scared me off make up, but I’m actually pretty comfortable with being a total rookie at it now.

Alice – I can’t remember whether I was genuinely interested in discovering make up or whether I felt like I should be interested.

Anna- I think a lot of girls feel like that! Maybe that’s why we all turn to make up, as a way of coping with the change and the new “grownupness”.

Alice – That’s a really interesting idea. I remember that same sort of time being pretty tough because of having to cope with all the ‘growing up’.

Anna – It makes me wanna ask everyone when they got into makeup to see if it was around the same time. Growing up as a girl is so hard! You’re thrown in at the deep end – expected to be really good at make up immediately and to have a great fashion sense.

Alice – Yes! And it’s all at once – that 12-14 age range. Quite a lot to cope with.

What is your daily make up routine if you have one?

Anna – I don’t really have a daily or conventional make up routine. I actually own very little make up, BUT I do have a kind of self-care routine that involves putting on make up. It’s a little bit bizarre I suppose but I like to view this routine as a kind of therapy! Basically, when I feel really sad, or just sort of lost, or any negative emotion, or creatively sapped, I paint my face with lipstick and/or use turquoise eyeliner to make myself have freckles and experiment with contouring and bizarre shapes and strange lip colours. anna1It’s really fun and it helps me to survive really awful weeks, or it can just be a way to remind myself that my body is my own and I can do with it what I want – it doesn’t have to look pretty or cute – it can be ugly, weird, eye-catching, sparkling, childish, alien, robotic, butch, magical and any number of other things. So my “make up routine” is a really intense one and only happens about once a month. It’s really refreshing and I would 800% recommend it! Just throw caution (and colour) to the wind and put stuff onto your face!

Alice – That’s really cool! Sometimes I forget that make up can be arty. Some would say it’s a form of art!

Anna – I’m not sure if it is or isn’t really, but I don’t mind – it’s purpose for me isn’t art ,it’s just a way of helping me access strength or confidence or happiness. But then I think selfies can be art, so if I take a selfie with the makeup maybe I’ve made it INTO some kind of art piece?

Alice – Yeah, why not? There should be a gallery set up for selfies!

Anna – I would so go to that!! And hope my selfies made it in! What about you? What’s your kind of routine with makeup?

Alice -– My routine is nowhere near as interesting as yours! I don’t own a lot of make up and I tend to keep things quite simple. But I’ve developed a make up routine in the order that I apply things – concealer first, then foundation, then eyebrows, then eyes, then lips. I like doing my eyes best, and I’m a fan of big eyeliner flicks! If I want to keep things more casual, I’ll not put as much on, but if I’m going somewhere where I want to impress, I’ll do more.

Anna – Oh that’s interesting! So if you are dressing to impress do you wear more obvious make up rather than natural- looking stuff?

Alice – Yeah, like if I’m going to a party, I’ll put on lots of eyeliner and probably lipstick, but if I’m meeting friends in the day or going to school I won’t bother.

Anna – This might sound a bit like a therapy question, but do you enjoy putting the makeup on? Like is it a nice part of your day?

Alice – I kinda do actually, especially if I’m with a friend and we’re going somewhere, it’s fun to share make up and help each other. I also quite like seeing the ‘transformation’ of it too.

Anna – Yeah! A mutual and often girly shared experience. And watching your face change, it’s cool. It’s pretty impressive what people who can do make up can do – like contouring is so impressive.

Alice – Exactly! I’ve never tried it but it’s pretty amazing how people can completely change the shape of their face!

Anna – I think this type of stuff is seriously underrated because it is considered girly, and girly ALWAYS equals vapid, stupid, bad, pointless.

Alice – I’ve also seen lot of guys saying that girls who wear make up are ‘lying’ to everyone, which pisses me off.

Anna – I think though they react like that because they don’t really understand makeup – not to be patronising.

Alice – They set a double standard as well by saying that girls who wear make up are fake/liars, but girls who don’t are ugly/aren’t making any effort!

Anna – I think that’s why it’s just important to really think about WHO you are wearing makeup for. It’s okay to want to look pretty and impress people, but make sure that YOU think you look pretty.

Why do you/don’t you wear make up?

Alice – I wear make up most days, as I’m either going to school/university or seeing friends. There are a lot of reasons why I do this, the main one being that make up makes me feel more confident in myself, and that gives me a boost. Another reason is that, after having worn make up for a few years now, it feels almost like a necessity. If I go out ‘bare-faced’ I feel a bit naked. I would never judge another girl for not wearing make up, but there is a certain standard I set for myself – if I’m going to be seeing certain people or if I’m going somewhere where I know I’ll get my photo taken, then I feel like I should wear make up.

Anna – That’s really interesting because I go out bare faced the majority of the time, but I do USE makeup in a similar way to you – sometimes I wear it to feel confident. I’m much less interested in looking pretty than I used to be. Now I care about looking like myself, being feminine, being interesting, being confident through the makeup I use. I also really like TRYING to look ugly – it’s so much fun and it takes all the pressure off!

Alice – These ‘expectations’ that I have for myself cause me to feel like I need to wear make up, but if I stopped wearing make up, what’s the worst thing that could happen!? Your attitude is great though, I definitely feel like I have to try and look pretty. Trying to look ugly is not something that’s ever crossed my mind!

Anna – Unfortunately it does take a lot of strength to shun those expectations, so you know, baby steps – not to be patronising! It’s fun, you should definitely try it some time.

Do you feel different when wearing makeup or more judged by others?

Anna – I do feel different! I think part of that is because it’s quite rare for me to wear makeup and because of various issues with my skin I’ve never felt comfortable putting on make up, so when I wear makeup I wear MAKE UP (with flashing lights and bold colours), rather than the: “I woke up like this with a flawless face and most men can’t tell that I am wearing makeup at all” look”. So I guess I must get judged by people who think I dress/am alive to please them, BUT I do not care for that. I enjoy confusing people though, for example once I sat on the tube and I had some turquoise freckles for confidence and strength and also fun (I was going to a Beyonce concert!!!), and these two guys opposite me were clearly SO CONFUSED by it all. I enjoyed screwing with their perceptions. I think I like doing that sort of thing because of my identity too – as a Queer person I often feel like media only represents me when it subverts what is seen as “normal,” so now I claim subversion as my “thing.” anna2I’ve also gotten used to people judging my “look” because I have body hair which I don’t really cover up (leg hair is so effective at keeping me warm in the winter!), so I like to play with those stereotypes when I wear make up too – i.e if you don’t shave you are dirty and lazy, but then if I don’t shave and look really well put together, I’m proving them wrong and hopefully making them question those judgments.

To get back to the question properly, I do often wear makeup and it makes me feel feminine and powerful which I like. The red lipstick I wear sometimes is so full of obviousness and vivacity so that’s great for confidence and making me feel unashamed to be here, to be taking up space.

Alice – Wow, super interesting. My response is that I suppose I feel a bit of both. Different, because make up makes me feel confident, more attractive, and more powerful like you said! But on the flip side, I do often feel judged for my make up choices. If I go without make up, I feel like people (especially girls) may judge me to be lazy or not making an effort. However, when I do wear make up, although it makes me feel confident, I feel like people make assumptions about me too. In particular, I’ve often encountered guys who see me wearing make up, ‘fashionable clothes’ (and not to mention I have the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype to live up to) and judge me to be ditzy/vapid/slutty, which is not true, and something I wouldn’t want to pin onto any girl.

Anna – No! It sucks. It’s basically like anything a teenage girl does is stupid. It’s one of those things that is SO difficult to sort out, because you don’t need to spend your life trying to show them how complicated and clever you are – and it’s not your job to educate them, but those stereotypes can be really harmful and REALLY hurt girls’ self esteem.

Has make up helped you, and if so how?

Alice – I feel like make up has helped me – with my confidence, with making friends, with growing up. But when I think about it – I didn’t need make up for any of those things. I’ve always enjoyed doing my make up and I enjoy wearing it, but I can’t tell if it’s for the right reasons.

Anna – This one is difficult. I think agree, but because I basically like to paint my face a lot, it’s helped me personally –  but I’m not using it in the same way that most women do.

Alice – I can’t really justify that make up HELPS women. Maybe it does at surface level, but on a deeper level I think it’s maybe quite a damaging thing. I don’t know!

Anna- I guess it’s not the actual ACT of putting on make up, it’s the context of our situation. The kyriarchy/the patriarchy MAKE make up problematic, but the activity itself isn’t really a problem at all. It’s difficult because I never want to be the type of person to be like “women you cannot do a thing you like to do,”  but there are definitely issues with make up and it can quite easily be used as a tool to manipulate and subjugate women. Which is not cool.

Alice- Totally agree… maybe it’s not that we stop using it, it’s that we change our attitudes towards it?

If make up is a problem, can it be solved? Is it more of a bad thing than a good thing? Can we change attitudes and prejudices towards it? We feel almost more confused now than we did before our discussion! However, hearing about each other’s experiences and points of view was both interesting and enlightening. We encourage you to have your own discussions about make up with friends (you can use the questions from here if you like!). We guarantee you’ll come out of it a little confused and a little enlightened…and if anyone comes to any definite conclusions, let us know!

Youtube and Sexual Abuse

Author:

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By Anna Hill

Recently, I have noticed certain disgusting behaviour of some prominent and successful male Youtubers has come out of the woodwork of the Internet.  The whole situation has been handled badly, and honestly I, along with many others, am very upset about it. As a part of the Youtube community (as both a Fangirl – or a consumer of media – and a content creator), I believe it is our job – those who are part of the website – to continue to talk about this and ensure that it never happens again. The pervasive abuse from “Youtube celebrities” is not being tackled properly, and this is a huge issue because it means that many are completely unaware of the situation, therefore continue to support the abusers’ content.

One of the reasons this is all so scary is because people aren’t speaking up. I’ve seen just one video explicitly naming those that should not be endorsed in any shape or form, instead of watching, and thus supporting their work, read up on the master post of all of the abusers and the victim’s stories: http://unpleasantmyles.tumblr.com/post/79455706244/tom-milsom-hexachordal-heres-the-post-olga although obviously some trigger warnings apply (such as emotional manipulation, rape, sexual abuse)) which is infinitely important, but that was the only video. We must be vigilant and open and ensure everyone is educated to make the right decisions about the content they watch and which they therefore support. (here’s the explicit video by Lindsay or Pottermoosh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pAQDoLeNIk )

It’s also a huge issue because those who are mostly in danger of being preyed upon by older, emotionally manipulative men are the large demographic of 13-17 year old girls that use the website. These are the same girls that we are continually told are “ruining” Youtube due to their fangirlishness when they are actually the ones who are most vulnerable and most in danger.

Frighteningly, one of the main culprits of some hideous behaviour, Ed Blann (Edplant on youtube), tried to come back to Youtube after having a three-month break and then attempted to claim it was all a mistake and people should forgive him. If this sounds like I am being too cruel to him, then let me explain:

  • Abusers need to accept that sometimes they cannot be forgiven.
  • Going back to a platform, which you used to abuse and even rape girls, is not the way to prove how much of a changed man you are.
  • You can’t treat this situation as if the benefit of the victims’ suffering is that you learned something and are a better person. That is not good enough and that’s not a solution.
  • We cannot trust abusers.

In the case of Ed Blann, whose come back video (a song supposedly explaining how much of a changed man he was) was well received by all too many people, he continued to prove that he does not deserve the ears or eyes of all the wonderful women who watch him by deleting actual comments from the main woman who he abused about her feelings towards his return (see here: http://that-teen-witch.tumblr.com/post/88175226722/lions-and-snails-i-commented-on-eds-video ).

Ann, or TheGeekyBlonde, is a fantastic Youtuber and has made a great video about the situation and how we can deal with it and move forward. She outlines some of the ways we can help combat and move on from this experience:

  1. Amputate – This means we have to cut abusers out of EVERYTHING, we cannot allow them to turn up to events/be on Youtube/etc. etc. No endorsement and no publicity
  2. Vaccinate – TELL EVERYONE ABOUT IT. Write blog posts/ have discussions, let the community know and make sure the community knows that behaviour won’t be tolerated. Stand with victims.
  3. Elevate – Value the work of women and teenagers rather than phasing out or neglecting their work! Big up women, and women on Youtube. Listen to them, believe them, support them.
  4. Exfoliate – This is about responding to irl/online creepiness: do NOT do nothing: stop them, talk to them, confront them. If you are too scared to talk to those that are being abusive or dodgy try to help the victim, ask them if they need help, compliment their shoes. Just try to give them a way out of talking to them or engaging with them.

Ann’s Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uc5eNNG60o

Consent videos are all very well but the viewers don’t need consent videos, the prominent Youtubers who suck do! There have been about four videos defining consent (which is important and useful, don’t get me wrong) but it is not enough – we need real change. A recent example of a consent video falling short is Jack and Dean’s (or omfgitsjackanddean) consent song which ultimately does nothing to rectify the situation, although many celebrate them as being really great people, even when they describe the sexual abuse as a “hullabaloo” and refuse to say that the song was a response to the behaviour of Youtubers.

If you’re aware of Youtube then you’ll be aware of the Vlogbrothers, Hank and John Green. Their position as de facto leaders of the Youtube community (through their creation of events like Vidcon) means their lack of a real stance and inadequate to no discussion of the situation is reprehensible.  Such behaviour, or lack of any real analysis or response makes them somewhat complicit in the actions of the youtubers that are abusers. (John Green even went as far as welcoming Ed Blann back to twitter after the allegations came out! http://i-burn-i-pine-i-perish.tumblr.com/post/89193450074/eddplant-returned-to-twitter-back-in-february-and-john). The lack of support that John and Hank Green gave to survivors means that not only do a large portion of viewers know absolutely nothing about this, but that they have let down a large percentage of the community – their failure to speak up has meant that this community no longer seems to listen to or care about the very people that allow it and, by association, them to have so much power.

If you are not protecting women and girls from this kind of treatment then you are allowing it to happen. No public discourse, no actual change.

 

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