A letter to 16 year old me.

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To 16 year old me,

Where do you start with a letter you are sure will never be read? I don't know for certain that time travel exists, so how can I be sure you would ever get this letter? I can't be. And yet there is so many things I want to tell you about, so many words of wisdom and warnings that I would like to pass along to you, to protect you from the negatives that are coming your way and to help you look forward to the positives (without ruining the surprises to come too much!). Perhaps even if you- my 16 year old self- never reads this, another 16 year old girl will do, and I can help her too. Knowing this is a possibility makes me happy...so let me continue to write, and hopefully pass on some nuggets of information to you that will help you in one way or another.

At just 18, I still have plenty more to learn about life. And yet at just 18 I have learnt enough to guide someone younger than myself through their teenage years. I must first break you the disappointing news, which you may have guessed by 16, you may have not- your life will not be like a movie. There will be no set structure of boy meets girl with a happy ending, any work you didn't understand you miraculously 'get' by the end, and you end up in your dream career or university straight away, no questions asked. No. It will be more work than that, more stressful than that and yet arguably just as exciting.

You may be looking forward to the day you turn 18, expecting your life to turn into a series of Skins, filled with drinking and secret raves and exotic love affairs, always feeling that little 'buzz', but I promise you, it won't. Yes, people will take drugs. Yes, people around you will begin to damage their bodies and harm themselves in ways you couldn't even imagine. Yes, people will make huge mistakes that they choose to trust you with and you will bear those mistakes like a burden, although they are not yours to bear, but it will not be glamorous. It will not be exciting. It will not be the way it is demonstrated in Skins. It will be scary, it will be unexpected, it will be dangerous. You will probably not know what to do, think or expect. Peer pressure is just one thing you will face everyday that could lead you down one of the destructive routes I have just listed. Please, try to never cave in. It's not worth it.

Don't be afraid to get professional help for the people that do cave in, that do lose their selves a little. Don't try and fix them on your own because it will not work. Your friends may not thank you straight away. They may shout at you, accuse you of betraying their trust, but believe me it will be better for them in the long run. They will thank you- eventually.

But who are these 'friends' anyway? By 18, you leave school pretty much alone. If you're in a big group of girls, know that at least one of them is stabbing you in the back. Slagging you off to people either outside or inside of your social circle- it may even be both. Know that someone else in that group is desperately unhappy, but hiding it so well. Know that each and every one of those girls in that group, no matter how 'perfect' they seem, are facing a battle inside of themselves every single day, yet hiding it so well for the benefit of the rest of you. If they can't reveal their true feelings to you, are you all really true friends? Not really.

People will lie, cheat, betray and break every promise they make. Stand your ground, look out for and after others, but always look after number one- you. At the end of the day, no one else will.

You will always be expected to give even more than you're giving- even if you're already giving your all. The human race is greedy, and will always want more. Provide too much of a kind shoulder for someone to lean on and they will crave affection the way an alcoholic craves a drop of wine, a shot of vodka- desperately. Offer to lend someone a hand with their school work and they will become dependent on your intelligence to support them through the rest of the term. People will become greedy, take advantage of you and suck every ounce of kindness they can out of you- all the while, never giving anything back in return. Steer clear of the takers. Find 'exchangers' instead. Affection for affection. Kindness for kindness. Love for love.

I'm sorry, 16 year old me. I make the world sound like such a terrible place. Truthfully, growing up is not that bad.

Yes, people will try to ruin your life. But all the hatred they throw at you, all the negativity that comes off of them will be worth it. Do you want to know why? Maybe I will tell you, so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel when things seem like they can't get any worse.

All the negatives, the disappointments of so called 'friends' and 'loved ones' will only thicken your skin. It will toughen you up. It will teach you to distinguish the real people from the fakes. Through people taking advantage of you, and people trying to ruin you, you will not be dragged down. You will only become stronger, tougher and better than ever. Suddenly you will only choose genuine people to be friends with- after so much negativity from people, you won't be able to help but to only see the genuine people. There may only be one or two, but this doesn't matter. Quality beats quantity every single time. And when you find these genuine people, these 'exchangers', suddenly everything leading up to that moment will make sense. Everything will seem worth it. These genuine people, be they partners or friends, will make everything seem worthwhile- and they will make your life feel complete.

All the negatives you have faced in life only build you up to be a stronger person. Believe me, I know that when you feel the lowest of the low, you don't want to believe things will get better. You want to just hide away for the rest of your life. This is your signal not to- your light at the end of the tunnel. Read these words and cling on to one last shred of hope- life gets better.

You will be happy. You will meet wonderful people (I shall give you a hint- they aren't from school!). You will be awarded amazing opportunities.

And I can promise you this for sure- at 18, when you become an adult, officially free and independent, whilst it might not be like a series of Skins, I can guarantee you that it will be the best year of your life yet.

Would I lie to you?

Love from,
Florence Grace



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Climbing up the career ladder- how close are you to your dream job?

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Everyone knows just how hard it is to break into a career that you really dream of doing. Every day you have more and more people applying to the same jobs, trying to reach the same dream. It's even harder when the industry that you are trying to break into is such a competitive one- such as the media. Unfortunately for me, it has always been my goal to work in the media, and as I get older I realize just how difficult it is going to be to achieve my dreams. However, as I get older I am also being presented with new opportunities and 'ways in'...so it is getting a little easier for me.

On Wednesday the 24th of September, I traveled to London (alone...for the first time!) to participate in two sessions that I hoped would help me on my way to becoming a media superstar. The first session was in the morning- 'A Day In The Life Of Q Magazine's Art Director'. As you can probably guess by the title of the session, I was past excited. Q Magazine is huge. I could hardly believe this opportunity was happening to me! I wasn't exactly sure what an Art Director did though, so I wasn't sure what to expect of the job.

The session turned out to be a very laid back few hours with the Art Director, Dan Knight. He gave us an insight into what he spent his days doing, how he got to where he was and, most importantly of all, gave us all some great tips on how to get to where we wanted to be. For those of you who weren't at the session, I have the same tips right here for you...don't say I don't spoil you!


  1. A degree does not matter. Dan could not reiterate this enough. He acknowledged that yes, whilst a degree was good, it pretty much stands for nothing without work experience. You may know everything there is to know about being an Art Director, a photographer, a journalist, but if you haven't put this knowledge into practice before, then your knowledge alone stands for pretty much nothing.                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Following on from that point, get as much experience in a relevant field of work as possible. Experience is so important, and is the best way into the media. Not only does it help you to become adaptable to the fast paced environment of the world of media, but it also tells you what you will and won't like. You may think you're going to be a journalist, but then you may do some work experience and actually learn that you hate doing that. Furthermore, all work experience in a certain area of the media e.g. magazines will be transferable to another magazine. The same applies with film, photography, graphic design. There's no way experience will not benefit you.                                                                                                                         
  3. Have a portfolio filled with relevant work that you can present to potential employers. If you're lucky enough to get an interview because you have the experience behind you, they will want to see physical evidence that you actually picked something up from the experience you have done.                                                                                                                                                  
  4. Don't be afraid to create your 'voice' in order to help you to stand out from the crowd. In such a competitive industry, standing out is key.                                                                                        
  5. Keep grounded. Don't ever believe that you are too good to just be making tea whilst on a placement, and don't ever feel you have nothing left to learn- there is always more to learn in such a versatile and ever-changing industry. Have confidence in yourself, but don't get above yourself. 




After such a useful session in the morning, I couldn't wait to get on with my afternoon session, 'Breaking Into Journalism', held by someone who worked in social media for Go Think Big and a multimedia journalist- as I have applied to potentially do a degree in Multimedia Journalism at university next year, I was very interested to hear what would be said...and of course, to share these tips with you!

  1. Whilst both of the speakers did indeed have a degree, both felt that their degree hadn't helped them get to where they are today- and if they were 18 in the period we are living in now, they wouldn't pay the extortionate prices for a degree. Again, they were firm believers that experience is key to getting to where you want to be, whilst university served better as gaining a qualification in 'life experience'.                                                                                                            
  2. Don't expect to get straight to the top- start low and work your way up. You'll find there's more to do and less competition this way too.                                                                                            
  3. Gain skills that will make you stand out from competitors- especially IT skills, and the use of relevant computer programs. Journalists today have to be so versatile within radio, TV, IT and just plain writing, it's good to demonstrate a wide variety of skills.                                                                                                       
  4. Take every single opportunity that comes your way, even if you think you will hate it and learn nothing from it. Wrong. You will learn something from every single opportunity you take. And it all adds up as extra experience behind you anyway!                                                                            
  5. Be memorable. Go above and beyond, butter people up, do your research on the business before an interview and follow up all job/placement applications.

Both sessions were more than useful for me- I filled my 'media notebook' up with pages and pages of notes, but I have picked out the key tips to help you guys out too! The most important tip of all though, one that was mentioned at both sessions was this: 

Once you're in, you're in. Your name will start to spread around, people will begin to recommend you from day one in that first placement. Don't slag off any placements or employers, because everyone knows everyone- the word will spread as quickly as your name did, and you will be black listed. Once you're in, you're in- don't ruin that opportunity. 

I hope these tips have helped you guys! If you have any more questions or want to know more, please get in touch using the comments below or any of the links in my sidebar! 

Love from, 
Florence Grace
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Feel good or feel safe? A woman's dilemma.

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WARNING: The following article is about rape and contains sensitive content. The subject of rape I have chosen to talk about is predominantly female victims with male attackers from Britain and the USA- this does not mean I am not aware that rape victims can be male, can be children and that it is a huge issue all over the world as well as here. Please do not take offence to the areas that I personally have chosen to focus on.

Girls love a big night out- the gossip, the drinking, the dancing. Best of all is the pre-drinks, and the getting dolled up, all girls together. Fancy heels, little dresses, eyelashes and glitter all come together to create an outfit preparing you for a night on the town. There's no denying though, that throughout all the fun of getting ready, there is often one worry lingering at the back of a girls mind. "Does this outfit create the wrong impression of me?".

Half of all youths think that rape is 'okay' in a 'certain situation'. 51% of boys aged between just eleven and fourteen believe that it is was acceptable to rape a female if you have "spent a lot of money on her". Similarly, a survey carried out among a foreign police force revealed 66% of the police offers believed girls were "asking for it" if they dressed and acted in a certain way that 'provoked' the attacker. Did I make that clear enough? Males believe females deserve to be raped, abused and attacked depending on how they look. 

How disgraceful are these statistics? I'm not sure which sicken me more- the views of a police force, the very men who are paid to protect rape victims, or the statistics involving children as young as eleven. In an ideal world, an 11 year old boy shouldn't even understand or know what rape is, let alone believe it is okay!

Rape is an all around awful thing. One of the worst parts to it is that there is literally never an acceptable story that an attacker can provide. "She said yes then changed her mind", "She was drunk and wanted it really", "The way she was dressed said it all"...the list of pathetic, disgusting excuses goes on and on and on. The sad but hard-hitting truth is that up to 95,000* people a year are raped. 95,000 people. What a number. The even sadder, even more hard-hitting truth is that just 1070* people are convicted with rape every year. Just take a second to compare those two numbers, and the difference between them. The number is even higher in America, with over 200,000* people being raped a year and an equally low number being convicted for their crime.

97% of rapists will never spend even one day in jail for what they have done.

So why is this? Why are rapists allowed to attack someone, possibly leading to the victim/s living a ruined life with serious consequences, and not receive any serious consequences of their own?

Is it because rape is not treated as a serious crime? 33% of males admitted they would date rape a girl if they knew they could get away with it. Why? Simply because a high proportion of men see it as just sex, and don't always consider what they are doing to be rape. If she's on a date with him, obviously she likes him and wants to sleep with him right? Wrong. Maybe she acts flirty on the date which creates an 'impression' on the male, and so he assumes she 'wants it'. Also wrong. If a girl does NOT say "Let's have sex" or "I want to have sex with you" do not have sex with her. If she starts taking her clothes off and then changes her mind, do not pressure her. Do not rely on assumptions or implied actions, because more often than not you will be wrong. You may feel by checking whether a woman definitely wants to have sex ruins the heat of the moment, but it is better to be safe than sorry- for both of you.

It could also be due to the fact that less than half of all rape cases are being reported. Victims feel scared of their attacker and don't want to risk being attacked again. Victims feel ashamed, embarrassed, dirty or simply don't know who to turn to in order to attain some much needed help. There are also other reasons, personal and unique to each and every victim. With only less than half of cases being reported, only less than half of attackers have the chance to be arrested, and this makes the number that are actually convicted even lower- allowing more rapists to walk free, able to do it again.

It could be because of the fact that only 3% of rapists spend time in jail- and even then, it's never for a sufficient amount of time. They will always be free to walk the streets in just a few years. This makes the effort of reporting a 'shameful' crime to the police in an attempt to get your attacker behind bars seem pointless if there's a high chance it won't work, and many victims choose to just try and attempt to live their life without any help or support following the incident.

Or it might be because 50% of rape cases are believed to be fabricated- when in reality, only 2-8% of them are.

Maybe it's because 84% of females raped know their attacker, and don't want to get a family member or 'friend' in trouble for fear of ruining other people's lives/relationships, or for fear it may happen again.

Thankfully, I have never been faced with the awful position of being a victim of sexual assault or rape. However, I feel I can understand why all of the above reasons prevent rape from being treated as a 'serious' crime. As well as providing an understanding as to why so many rapists walk free, these reasons also only display even more just how awful rape is. The statistic I personally found the most heart breaking and appalling was that 84% of females actually knew their attacker. How is any female supposed to let someone into their life, open up and trust them, knowing that statistic? Knowing a close friend, or brother in law could attack them and ruin their life? It is horrendous- the whole topic of rape and all it's statistics is.


So what needs to be done about these shocking statistics?

  • Men need to stop thinking the way a woman dresses means she's "asking for it" or "provoking" a man. Wrong wrong wrong. Why should a woman have to dress a certain way to prevent being raped? MEN need to stop raping to prevent rape! 
  • Sexual assault and abusive relationships need to stop being glorified- such as in the popular book and soon to be film 50 Shades of Grey. 
  • Females need to be given more support. They need to know that they will be believed if they report a rape, that they will not be judged or accused of being a "slut". They need to feel that they can report their attacker for what they have done. More than half of all rape cases should be reported- all of them should be. 
  • Men need to learn that no means NO. It doesn't mean persuade me or convince me. 
  • Men also need to learn that arousal is not consent. Yes, whilst you passionately kiss a woman, she will become aroused. No, this doesn't mean she wants to sleep with you. 
  • The punishment for rape needs to become more severe. The 3% that do go to jail need to spend more than 2 years there- and of course, more than 3% of attackers need to do time as well. 
I am not expecting a major change to come of this post. I am not expecting laws to change, people's opinions to change, raping to stop completely. But after the amount of rape cases that have been reported in my local town over the last couple of months, I have been doing in depth research, and felt the statistics I learnt deserved to be shared with a wider audience besides myself. Half the problem with rape may be just that people are not well informed enough on the issue. Half the problem may be the most common used excuse for rape is because "she looked up for it". No one, not one person, deserves to be raped because they look a certain way. The bottom line is this though: sex without consent from all participants is rape. Entry of someones body without their consent is rape. And rape is never okay. 

Read this post and inform yourself. Share this post and inform others. Help females know that there is no need to be afraid- they need to report their attacker to help prevent other girls from being attacked, and more importantly to help themselves. 97% of rapists walk free. This number needs to go down. 

Love from, 
Florence Grace

*data is changing every single day and is different in every country. 

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Think big, think better- a lunch with Kenny Campbell

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So thanks to GoThinkBig, today I was given the opportunity to attend a question and answer session with previous editor of London's 'Metro' newspaper, Kenny Campbell. As a budding journalist myself, I thought this was the opportunity of a life time- and I wasn't wrong!


Prior to the event, I had been tweeting Kenny to make myself known and to get to know him. This didn't go unnoticed and I was awarded with a caramel wafer bar for my proactive efforts! Joined by about 10 other girls, the question and answer session began and Kenny began to grace us with his wise words and inspiration. His first acknowledgement of the session, however, was that there was no boys. He found this very interesting, as when he himself had started in the media, it had been quite a different story.

He hadn't always been destined for the media though- it was an act of fate that actually bought him to where he is today. Originally, he studied Economics and Politics at university before realizing he found both subjects to be 'incredibly dull'. After graduating, he decided media was the path he wanted to go down- and after some incredible effort he finally got his foot in the door when he applied to be a sub-editor- an advertisement he had seen in a free newspaper that he didn't normally pick up, whilst on a broken down train in a blizzard. It seemed Kenny's fate had been sealed. From there on, he took on several other positions at a wide variety of papers, spending no more than 2 years at each placement, before finally moving to the Metro, where he stayed for 12 years. During this time, the Metro became the best selling free newspaper around- an achievement I'm sure Kenny feels proud of.

I did have to take a moment to let his 'journey' into media sink in. It had all been down to luck- almost a 'right place, right time' sort of scenario. It sounded like exactly the kind of opportunity I would need, and the end of his story lead perfectly onto my first question for him.

"Is university a necessity? Because I'm currently taking a 'gap year' as I am not sure if a degree is better, or whether work experience and placements etc. would be preferred"

His answer was very helpful to me. Whilst explaining that a degree was of course an excellent way to gain information about journalism and gaining contacts, he reassured me that it was not a necessity when it came to breaking into the media industry and that experience did count for a lot. For him, he said that when it came to looking through people's application forms, to stand out you had to have an 'amazing attitude and basic competency'- absolutely no spelling mistakes!!

Another key thing Kenny told us to do to help get into the world of media was networking, and taking every opportunity that comes your way. "Networking and experience really make you stand out" he said "If you got offered an internship, think very hard about why you would say no". Being a bit of a social media pro, this was music to my ears! I already believed networking to be important, but to have it confirmed by someone in the industry was helpful and confirmed my own thoughts about breaking into the world of media.

The next question I had for Kenny regarded my blog, and how to deal with negative feedback and criticism's- something I am no stranger to. His response was simple. "Having an opinion isn't a bad thing...Don't be afraid of criticism, it's not their life!". This quote is something I am going to permanently embed in my mind! As a blogger, and a budding journalist, you have to be prepared to be faced with opposing opinions to your own. Being thick skinned is something that has to come naturally to figures working within the media, but I found these words to be very comforting.

The final words of wisdom from Kenny were "Do what you're comfortable with, but do it well".

My journey home after the session with Kenny was filled with thoughts regarding what I am doing with my journey into the media now, and what I would like to be doing to get further ahead. I found Kenny's positive approach refreshing and more than helpful. It was interesting to see someone so successful had fallen into the media but pure luck to begin with, before working extremely hard to get to where he is today. His positive approach was also extremely inspiring- too often we hear negative views of people who bring us our daily news, so it was nice to actually meet someone who delivered news to us and find out the journalist/editor stereotype was quite far from the truth- in this instance anyway!

I know now more than ever that journalism is the road I would like to go down, and I will make sure to remember all of Kenny's helpful hints and tips from today! Inspirational, helpful and wise- 3 words to sum up the legend that is Kenny Campbell! Thank you to GoThinkBig for the fabulous opportunity today- definitely a lunch time I wont' forget!




Love from,
Florence Grace

All images my own.
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University- the pro's and con's

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University. The whole idea of starting somewhere new, living away from home and trying a completely different lifestyle whilst learning a new subject and important life skills can seem both daunting and exciting at once. There's often one problem that bothers new students the most though- money. University is, ultimately, not affordable. The cost of books, equipment, accommodation, the course itself and then just the cost of living (food, clothes etc.) all totals to huge amounts that not even our parents could afford, let alone 18 and 19 year old students. And what do you get at the end of it? Yes 'life long friends' and life skills (which can be gained anytime, any place...) but also a huge amount of debt to pay off, and no immediate job prospects a lot of the time. Whilst having a degree used to put you above the rest, is university still the best option of school leavers?


Going to university is no longer a route that will lead you to a guaranteed job complete with an enviable salary. As it stands, university is now the most expensive it has ever been, and once graduating, students are finding it harder than ever to secure themselves a career. With all this considered, it does seem like university can be a total waste of time.

However, a degree is still necessary for a vast amount of careers. If you want to become a doctor or a vet or a lawyer or a dentist then a degree is completely necessary to support you in your future career- there is pretty much no way you are getting a job without one tucked under your belt. And, whilst it does often seem like degrees better support the more academic career choices, if you're interested in art, media or sports, often the contacts you make at university and the skills you learn will assist your career throughout its take off more than anything else- making university seem fairly worthwhile for all careers.


Furthermore, university graduates are more likely to earn a higher salary than people without a degree, and are also able to find employment in half the time a non-university applicant can. The vast majority of university students found full time employment within 3 months last year, whereas the non-university applicants took about double that length of time. Once graduates did secure themselves a job, they then earned an average of twice as much as employees who had left school at 16 or 18. These statistics show university to still be beneficial to achieving a 'dream job' as well as a high salary.

But, as in every argument, each pro can be matched with a con.

Whilst it is true that degrees are necessary for a lot of careers, it is not a necessity for all careers. Yes at university, you can meet 'contacts' who will help you out when you leave. Yet surely if all you can rely on is the contacts, three to five years of studying and paying extortionate fees seems a complete waste? If it is a career in the arts or media or sport that you're interested in, a lot of the time experience comes high on an employers list- well before a degree. There are also other, free journey's into these career paths such as internships and apprenticeships. You can earn and learn at the same time, without having to pay much more than travel costs each day, and can end up with a qualification afterwards. You can also put yourself forwards for voluntary work experience placements to gain further experience. And with social media being what it is today, it is easier than ever before to create the right kind of contacts to help you get your career off of the ground.

Following on from this, a degree no longer makes a job applicant stand out from the crowd either. Years ago, degrees were a lot rarer to have and so automatically secured you a job. Nowadays, a lot more people have one and so it is harder to stand out. Some of the very top most employers have stressed just how important work experience is in helping you to secure a job position. This means that whilst you may have a degree, if you have little or no experience, you will not stand out enough against other applicants with a degree. This 'con' makes not going to university look like a good idea, as on top of your university work and a job to help you try and afford your living costs, you would also have to attempt to cram in some work experience. It makes university seem a bit like a waste of time and money. Why not just opt for an internship or an apprenticeship instead?

University can be fun and you can create some amazing memories and meet some wonderful life long friends. It can be the best years of your life. But now, it may not always provide for a better future. It is important that students today don't go to university because they feel it is the only way they can achieve greatness and success later in life. In this modern period that we live in, there is so many alternatives that can help you to be the best you can be and can assist in pushing you into your dream career. 

It is also important to remember that leaving school at 18 doesn't have to be the end of your education- although if you want to go straight into work, that's fine! You can attend college- which is free-, or participate in an apprenticeship and earn whilst learning and gaining a qualification. There are so many alternatives to help youths of today gain their dream job. It is important that they are well informed on all of them, and not just on university. 

Love from, 
Florence Grace

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September Style Picks!

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This piece has been edited with pictures removed to avoid copyright infringement.


September is here! Summer has gradually faded out and autumn is creeping in...days get shorter and the weather gets colder. But now summer is over, this doesn't mean style walks out the door too! Here are my style picks for September.


The 'Horoscope Tee' from Topshop for £16.00 is one of my favourite t-shirts around at the moment! The symbols for each horoscope are all so cool, and to have them on the t-shirt in such a simple way really appeals to me! It looks far better than Tee and Cake's star sign tee, which is over crowded and messy looking. The price is a little steep for what the top is, but it's definitely a must- buy on my list!

           
The 'Lace Panel Tee' in 'Berry Red' is perfect for the start of Autumn. The colour is perfect for September. but the lace edging to the t-shirt is perfect for the sunny days that September still has left! Available from Topshop for £24.00 which is a little steep for students but if you have the cash, definitely worth the splash!

                         
The 'Pu Crop Cardigan' is perfect for September! It is the perfect item for any sixth form, college or work wardrobe, to pull off any smart-casual look. It's warm enough to keep you toasty in the autumnal breeze but as a cardigan, light enough to make sure you aren't too hot on those summer days! The leather half sleeves add a unique look and at £22.00 from Topshop, you can't go wrong!

                                       

I am in love with the Topshop 'Annex Pinstud Chelsea Boots'! They are again, another smart-casual piece necessary for all wardrobes! Too heavy for summer and maybe a little too hot on the warmer days but perfect for Autumn, with their lack of fur and the fairly thin material. The pointer toes are perfect for kicking your way through the Autumn leaves, but at £65.00 they can be a bit of a risk!



The 'Yellow Sleevless Wrap Blouse' is the perfect transition item from August to September- whilst maintaining the bright summery colour of yellow, yellow is also the first colour the leaves turn to at the start of Autumn! If yellow isn't your colour, the blouse is also available in more autumnal browns and greys. It is a simple top that can then be teamed with a colour coordinated blazer or cardi on the more chilly days of September, and at £26.00 from River Island, it's not too bad of a price either! 



I adore this 'Dark Red Floral Leopard Print Scarf' available from River Island for £15.00. I am not normally a scarf girl, but I love the colour scheme and the clashing patterns. With a plain coloured dress or top, this scarf would be the perfect splash of colour and could provide a fabulous colour pallet for accessories- red's, orange's and browns', much like the colours of Autumn! 



River Island have so many gorgeous bag's in at the moment, but I fell in love with the 'Black and White Mock Croc Satchel', available for £35.00. Although a little pricey, I felt this was the perfect 'back to school' bag. The plain use of colours means there is no risk of outfit clashes as black and white go with everything. The material and added details, such as the tassels, add a touch of glam to the bag, making it a bit of an all rounder in my eyes! This bag would go smartly with the 'Pu Crop Cardi' and the 'Toni' dress!



The 'Misha Check Print Bodycon Dress' from Boohoo is a total bargain for just £12.00 (not including the student discount you get...!). It is perfect for going back to school or work with it's smart casual check design and it's monochromatic colour scheme. I would team this with some black ankle boots, the Pu Crop Cardigan (listed above) and then really go all out with bright coloured accessories! 



The 'Toni Drawstring Waist Sweat Dress' is a little steeper in price for such a plain dress at £18.00 but again, do not ever forget about Boohoo's fabulous student discount offers! I love the dress firstly because it's grey and that seems to be 'my colour', and secondly because it's so simple. Because of this, it can be accessorized in so many different ways and used for so many different looks- it's very versatile. You can team it with low cut converse/converse style trainers and a baseball jacket, or heeled boots and the River Island scarf above- this dress can suit almost anyone and is a worthwhile staple buy! 



I love this 'Alice Check Punkd Cardigan' from Boohoo, available for £25.00. Whilst it seems a little pricey, this cardigan could go with the plain grey dress above, or the 'Horoscope Tee' to add a little 'punky' edge to the outfit. The colour is also perfect for Autumn, but the cardigan is also available in dark green for those of you who don't like to dress so brightly! This cardigan would really go with the 'Toni' dress and teamed with all gold accessories and some dark smoky eye make up would make a really fab ensemble! 



I love bomber jackets and own two of my own already! I love the 'Brooke Contrast Sleeve Bomber Jacket' from Boohoo and at £18.00 the price isn't too steep! The contrasting colours leave you room to be experimental with your choice of accessories and the slightly sporty feel to the jacket gives a sort of 'back to school' vibe (more so if you're american I guess...). This item again could be glammed up and worn with a bodycon dress or played down and worn with some boyfriend fit jeans and a casual top- such as the 'Horoscope Tee'. 



I adore the 'Natalie Lace Up Peep Toe Boots'! Another fabulous item available from Boohoo at £28.00. I love the simple colours, as this allows the boots to be paired with so many things. The laces give the idea of 'girly' boots a bit of a sporty edge, and the heel contrasts this, whilst the pee toe shows we aren't ready to say goodbye to summer just yet! These boots would go nicely with jeans and the 'Berry Red' Topshop tee, or with either of the two Boohoo dresses. The laces allow the shoes to be dressed up or casual-d down. I think these are definitely a worthwhile buy!

                             

The 'No Photo's Please' eyeshadow pallet is the perfect Autumn pallet for me. At just £4.99 from 'I <3 Makeup' this is an absolute steal. The colours are Autumnal with the added sparkle making them appropriate for day and night. There is a fab range of colours and even some blue's thrown in there to make the transition from Autumn to Winter. The pallet even comes with a free eye primer...what more could you want??

Kicking off Autumn/Winter 14 with a killer wardrobe is a must! It doesn't all have to be costly though! Never forget about your student discount opportunities and don't forget to check out charity shops for some nifty finds too!! 

Love from, 
Florence Grace 
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Surviving Sixth Form

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So the first week of starting school or college is finally over...and if you're starting college or sixth form, you're probably realizing that you may need to make some major changes in your life to accommodate yourself to the life of an A Level student. Having completed two years of A Levels and leaving with some very good results, I've compiled a list of my top tips to help you out for the next step in your education!

Tip One: Be organised. This sounds obvious, but as you get older and gain more freedom, become able to drive or drink (hopefully not at the same time...!) staying organised becomes more and more difficult. Keeping a diary is a must- this really will prevent you from forgetting anything. Dates, meetings, deadlines, anything. Have plenty of folders and dividers to keep all your work organised and have a set space in your room kept clear for storing your work and keeping it safe.


Tip Two: Start retaining information you learn right away. When writing in class, use lots of coloured pens and highlighters to help the most important bits stand out. When you get home, re-write up the important facts that you have learnt and need to remember. Keep going over the notes all of the time- if you can't find time everyday, read them whenever you can. It sounds tedious but it really will help when it comes to exams.


Tip Three: Meet deadlines. Do work on the night it is set- your social life is important, but if you fall behind on one piece of work, it is more likely to happen again and again- the further you fall behind and fail to meet deadlines, the more stressed you will become and the more difficult it will be to get back on track.


Tip Four: Whilst having money is important to nearly all teenagers, having  job should not be a priority over your work and getting the best grades that you can achieve. If you manage to balance a job and school/college, that's really great! But do not let a job just cause added stress to your life for the need of money.


Tip Five: Similarly to tip four, a social life isn't the top of your list if you want to reach university with the best grades you can get for your capabilities. Having friends is important but if you can't make every single party or social gathering, it isn't the be all and end all. Doing the best work that you can do should come first. Your friends will understand if you aren't out 24/7- and if they don't, are they really your friends?


Tip Six: Tidy space, tidy mind. It sounds completely unrelated but having a clear space in your home, be it a study or a desk in your room, is so important. You work better in calm, tidy environments. If this is impossible, maybe ask a local relative or use a space at school or your local library. Peace and quiet really counts.


Tip Seven: Stay healthy. When getting stressed over school, or becoming consumed with deadlines people often become a little less healthy- they can eat too much or not at all and don't always have time to exercise as much as they can. These can lead to illnesses which then prevent you from being able to get the results you are able to. Staying healthy, eating three meals a day and regularly exercising is important!


Tip Eight: Get enough sleep. Working until 3am and then getting up again at 6:30am is no good- your brain won't function properly and you won't retain anything you think you are learning anyway! Sleep for at least 6 hours a night- but nearer to 8 is better!


There is so many things you can do to make your life easier during the next few years of your education. It may seem impossible to do them all, but it really is doable. Good luck with your studies and if you feel like everything is falling apart, get in touch- I am more than happy to help anyone!

Love from,
Florence Grace
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The problem with pin-ups.

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At this day in age, we are used to seeing the female body naked. It might be in films, to portray a sex scene. It might be in advertising, such as the campaign "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign by PETA. One of the worst forms of female nudity in our society however is the Page 3 Pin Up girls. One word- why?


Page 3 pin ups are something I have never understood. Whether that's because I lack sexual attraction towards women or not, I don't know. But I just can't get my head around two major points about pin up girls. Firstly, why would you want to smack an image of a naked woman, who doesn't look anything but trashy, in the middle of a well respected newspaper, such as The Sun? Secondly, what woman wants her naked body displayed as a grainy image in a newspaper for aging business men to ogle over on their train journey home to their wife? I just do not understand.

Let's first look at this from the woman's point of view. Obviously the women who embark on this modelling venture have one of two thoughts in their mind- either "I have no other choice and need money, I have a good body, let's do this!" or they genuinely just want to show their naked body to the world- or rather, some pervy men who are dissatisfied with the real women in their life. 
I personally feel sympathy towards these women. By no means is there anything wrong with a career in modelling- if you've got it, flaunt it! However, I feel sympathetic towards the women who feel as though they have to flaunt absolutely everything. Of course there is nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin, and there is nothing shameful about the female body whatsoever. However, I can not help but feel that a completely naked body should be reserved only for your intimate partner- not for the eyes of men all over the country, sometimes even wider than that. A woman should at least be wearing a bikini that covers her in a satisfactory way. Yes, it is great to be so body confident- but there are other ways in which you can demonstrate this confidence. However, in my opinion, a woman who feels she has to show off her entire naked body to a mass group of strangers has some confidence issues, and is desperate for reassurance- whether they ever admit to that or not. 

Furthermore, what sort of example does it set to a child if they were to come across naked images of their role model- their mother? We have all seen the sort of example Katie Price, a former pin up girl for The Sun, has set for her children. Her behavior isn't always that to be admired. 

This is not to say that all pin up girls are bad parents or bad people- but I do fail to see how showing your naked body to the world creates a good example for children. 

Page 3 pin ups just continue to lead males to believe that the sexualisation of females and the naked body is okay. It allows men to perceive women as nothing other than sexual objects. We don't have posters of female doctors in their surgeries, celebrating their achievements. We don't have posters of female lawyers or politicians, talking about their accomplishments. Instead, we choose to have posters of naked women, showing off all they have, forgetting that women are more than their bodies. 

All the page 3 girls look the same too. Big boobs, big bums, the right curves in the right places and tiny waists and tummies. For men, this sets unrealistic expectations of what to expect of "normal" women. For women who see these other women, who are often photoshopped, it sets unrealistic body ambitions- which can become dangerous. Just take a look at some of the first pin up girls- Betty Grable for one. She was one of the earliest, most popular pin up girls. 

In the image above, we can see just how different pin up models and photos are today. Betty was not tiny with the 'perfect barbie' figure that is seen as so desirable by women today. She has thick thighs, a nice peachy bum, and her boobs are not ginormous. Looking at her face, there's no provocative pout, no lusty lip biting, just a plain, gorgeous smile. Lastly- and most importantly- she is wearing clothes. There was no need for her to flaunt her naked body because she knew she was gorgeous as she was. On top of this, whilst men didn't treat women equally, it was more of a popular opinion to be disgusted by a woman who flaunted her body for all to see than it is nowadays. 

What has changed? Feminism has been taking dramatic steps forwards, and women are gaining more and more equality every day, but there are still some aspects in society that seem to be going backwards. Yes, women have better pay and better job opportunities than they used to- but they are still viewed as nothing more than a body by the vast majority of the male population. 

However, things could be starting to turn themselves around. "Media Baron" Rupert Murdoch has hinted that he would like to drop the topless page three pin ups from The Sun. Earlier today, he tweeted "Page 3 again. Aren't beautiful young women more attractive in at least some fashionable clothes? Your opinions please". 

The fact that someone in such a high position in the media has noticed that this is becoming "old fashioned" is a positive move in the right direction. However, The Sun has spoken out and said that they will continue to listen to the reader's feedback and will continue to make the newspaper the way the reader's want it- and let's be honest. What male is going to say they want the page 3 girls dropped? I hope that Mr Murdoch will stick to his own feelings towards the pin up girls, and with him having such a large say in The Sun, I hope that he will influence the newspapers audience, and that this page will finally be dropped. 

Women, please remember this: page 3 pin ups go against everything women have been fighting for. They have been fighting for an image for themselves other than body image- they have been fighting to be recognized for academic achievements, for intelligence, for skills. Participating in nude modelling goes against all of this. And men, please remember this. Whilst you may enjoy the naked body displayed over a page for your eyes, imagine what you would think if that naked woman was your wife, your sister, your daughter- how would you feel then? I'm sure you would feel quite differently. 

If women continue to portray themselves as nothing more than a body, men will continue to look at them as nothing more than a body. The hard work of feminism would become reversed. Women, be more than your body. Men, see the beauty of a females face and her mind. 

Love from, 
Florence Grace


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More than two- a new way to love?

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If anybody has been watching the newest series of Made In Chelsea, MICNYC, you will have been introduced to a fairly new concept by the slightly slimy New Yorker, Jules- Polyamorous love. In the series, New Yorker Jules Hamilton takes a love interest in Chelsea girl, Rosie. Whilst Rosie begins to fall head over heels for what appears to be a handsome, charming young man, co-stars Binky and Louise later reveal to her that Jules has a girlfriend, and is seeing 3 other girls as well as Rosie in what is called a 'polyamorous relationship'.

So what does being polyamorous mean? Polyamory is defined as the acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. To the ladies on screen- and off!- this sounded a lot like 'slutty behavior' and 'cheating', whilst to men this sounded like a dream set up. Needless to say they were far more open to the idea than the Chelsea ladies.

But is polyamory all about being unfaithful and the inability to commit? I took some time to do a little research of my own into this unusual relationship idea...

Human beings have very animalistic instincts. Males especially are not genetically made to be monogamous- they are made up with the genetics that tell them they need to reproduce as much as they can with the best mates they can find- right back to our animal roots. Women are a little less like this- once they have had sex with someone, they form a chemical connection with them and are more likely than a man to want to stay faithful and become 'dependent' (or to the male mind, clingy). Whilst all of this goes on subconsciously, more consciously we have tried to tame these animal instincts with the ritual of marriage. When you marry someone, you vow to love them 'til death do you part'. That means loving one person for your whole life. Not 3, 4, 5 people. 

However, over the last 10 years there have been some dramatic relationship changes. Divorce rates have been higher than ever, with half of all marriages now ending in divorce. We have legalized marriage between two men and two women. We have been able to open our minds to these new ideas and changes- so why are so many people so close minded towards polyamorous relationships? 

A lot of relationships end when partners become bored of each other and the same old routine that they have fallen into. This is something that can't ever happen in a polyamorous relationship. Some relationships end due to one or both partner being unfaithful, leading to a lot of upset and grief. However, in a polyamorous relationship, both partners are open about who they're seeing and what they do with who they see- leading to a potentially happier relationship than a monogamous one for all involved. 

This isn't to say that being polyamorous isn't complicated though. From a young age we are taught to emulate the social convention of marriage. We read it in books, we see it in films and photos. We know the structure of a nuclear family and married life like the back of our hands, and by the time we reach the age to become married, we know exactly what to expect. For those choosing to become polyamorous, they have no idea what to expect. In a polyamorous relationship, all participants must make all the rules themselves- they have no idea what consequences may follow and what issues may lie ahead. 

And what about children? Whilst children nowadays can be used to having two mummy's or daddy's or various step-parents, could a child become used to having multiple mummy's and daddy's? Could people in a polyamorous relationship even have children? It would be full of complications if children were conceived naturally, and would more than likely be refused by foster homes and adopting agencies. Suddenly letting two people of the same sex have children seems more appealing to the authorities than letting a group of 5 men and women adopt a child. 

I try to remain very open minded about the way people choose to live their lives, and I have remained open minded about this also. It is my opinion that if polyamory works for you and all your partners then there is no reason as to why you should not participate in that style of relationship. If it makes you happy, then there is no reason to be forced into a monogamous relationship because of society's expectations of a what a relationship must be. 

That being said, it is also my opinion that whilst polyamory may be good for a while, for example whilst you are younger, when the time comes that you want to start a family and have children, it is probably not an overly great idea. Children deserve to grow up in a stable family unit, and it is hard to have one if the adult figures in their life are constantly changing. 

To me, polyamory seems like a bit of fun. You're young, you're free, you don't need to commit. But the older you get and the more serious you get about what you want from life- like children- I believe it may be better to become monogamous. Even if that doesn't necessarily mean marriage, I think a child needs two parents for stability, not 5, 6 or maybe even more. 

I don't believe that it is always about 'greed' and the inability to commit, or even the inability to love someone fully. I believe it is just about being relaxed before you have to 'grow up' and become 'serious'. I believe it is about fun and about freedom. Whilst it's not for everyone, for some others, it works. At the end of the day, if what you're doing makes you happy, that's all that counts, but personally, polyamory is not for me. 

Love from, 
Florence Grace 

What do you think about polyamorous relationships? Are they the way forward? Let me know what you think in the comments below or get in touch using the links in the side bar!   
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Introducing Mrs Brad Pitt (Finally!)

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So despite Brangelina being a 'thing' for God knows how many years, the superstar couple weren't actually married. Who knew?

The pair tied the knot, diminishing all rumors of divorce and break ups, in France, on the 23rd of August, with just 22 guests to witness 'Brangelina' finally tying the knot.

The pair acknowledged just how important it was that the day was entirely family orientated in a joint statement, saying "It was such a special day to share with our children and a very happy time for our family". And indeed the children did get to share the couple's special day in great depth. The venue for the special occasion was the family's home in France, Chateau Miraval- familiar and comforting for the children and personal to the loved up couple. Perfect. The vows were not only romantic and sweet but were written with assistance from their children, and consisted of promises the children wanted their parents to make to each other in order to remain happy and in love.

Is your heart melting down your chest like butter on hot toast right now? Well read on.

Angelina's dress was a stunning, hand-made creation, made by none other than Versace's Luigi Massi, who is 'like family' to the actress. Sleek and effortlessly glamorous, Angelina looked incredible in the beautiful silver dress, which was slim fitting and incredibly flattering to the star's enviable figure. To top the dress off though, Angelina added a personal touch- the special pictures her children had drawn her over the years were embroidered into the back of the dress and the veil. The personal touch not only made the dress unique, but also something to keep forever- even if the drawings are lost, they are permanently etched into a dress linked to many happy memories from the special day.

Following the 'child friendly' wedding, even the wedding cake was more your stereotypical children's birthday cake than a white three-tiered creation.

Could a wedding be any sweeter?

The venue, the vows, the veil- complete family orientation to emphasize the real reason for marriage: love. No big flashy public display of affection, no worldwide proposal at a baseball game and no million dollar deal to several magazines and TV crews to have their special day exposed. Brad and Angelina treated their wedding with class and sophistication and did not let their megastar status strip away the true meaning of a marriage. Too often celebrities make their weddings about publicity, about money and about attention. Brad and Angelina made their day about the two most important things in a marriage- their family and the love that they all share.

Congratulations Brad and Angelina- may you share many more wonderful years together!

Love from,
Florence Grace
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