Spilling the Tea With Francisca Rockey - Being a young black woman in Britain

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This week we’re spilling the tea with blogger Francisca Rockey. So far, we’ve chatted about the blogospheretaking a last minute gap yearhow we can work to save the world and dating. Today, in the final  post of the series, we’re talking about being a young black woman in Britain - and guys, the tea is piping hot. 

As a young black woman, what are your thoughts on racism in Britain? Is it getting better, worse?
Racism is prevalent in the UK. A lot of people will say “Britain is the least racist nation” but it really isn’t. If you genuinely think racism in Britain isn’t a thing then you’re either living under a rock or you are racist. Racism isn’t just shouting slurs at someone, its crossing the road when you see a black boy with their hood up walking towards you.

We’re seeing a rise in black and mixed race celebrities, such as grime artists and social influencers, with the likes of Stormzy, Oloni, Grace Victory and Kelechi Okafor all using their platforms and voices to try and bring about change and all being celebrated for it, yet racism is still rife on the streets. Do you think they’re having an impact on how black people are being treated on a day to day basis, or is it instead leading to a lot more cultural appropriation and fetishisation of these black celebs?
I think black and mixed race celebrities and social influencers are having a huge impact on how black people are being treated and are helping to dismiss cultural appropriation and fetishization. Kelechi regularly tweeting about the systematic racism towards black women and how opportunity is taken away from us, Stormzy has been very vocal about police brutality, knife crime and the Grenfell tower incident. All of these are things that people are fully aware of and turn a blind eye to but when people with such a huge following or social impact are openly discussing them, we are forced to face the facts and acknowledge the issues within our communities. It’s not just affecting me, your average Joe, its affecting everyone and that’s what their power highlights.

What struggles have you faced as a young black woman in Britain?
As a young black woman in Britain, I have faced being stereotyped and sexualised. There’s a stereotype of black woman that we are aggressive, angry and loud, I don’t fit the stereotype and because of that I have been called a bounty, Malteser, white girl and all sorts of slurs that essentially mean that I’m a white girl in a black girls body. I start by saying, I’m black. It might come as a surprise to some of you but I’m blackitty, black, black. I don’t conform to my stereotype and that doesn’t mean I’m not black, I am Francisca Rockey and not a stereotype. I went to a predominately white nursery, primary school, high school and sixth form, hence I have a lot of white friends. I’ve been surrounded by them so why wouldn’t I be friends with them? I have plenty of black friends too. I don’t braid my hair, wear weave or a wig, I have my natural hair out but I’m not less black than black girls who do have those hairstyles. People seem to have a stereotype of black people and when you don’t match their view of us as “ghetto”, you’re labelled as being a “sell out” or an “oreo”. I think people forget that no matter your race, you do not have to conform to how your race is represented. I am well-spoken and yes, I listen to “black music” and I also listen to “white music” and guess what? I’m still black.

Do you think Donald Trump’s racist attitude and behaviours are impacting the views of people in Britain?
Under Trump’s governance, America has become such a backward developed country. I think Trump’s attitude and behaviour has an enormous impact on the views of people in Britain. Trump believes immigrants are the reason for almost all of America’s problems, but the truth is, America is nothing without immigrants, just like Britain. The idea that immigration is a problem was used as a strong push to get people to vote to leave the EU.

Imagine what Britain would be without immigration? Of course they can’t let everyone live and work here but to say it’s a problem creates a negative view of immigrants who are already living in the UK. I’ve heard people say “immigrants are taking our jobs”… Now Dave, I don’t see you going to study medicine for 5 years to become a Doctor, those immigrants have and are qualified to do the job so they’re getting the job. I also hear “immigrants are taking over” we all enjoy a curry from your local Indian or Chinese - without said immigrants, all there’d be is fish and chips. Just to ruin your evening, fish and chips isn’t a British delicacy either. Fried fish was brought to Britain by Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe.

All in all, America belongs to the natives. Remember it was colonised by white men, they took something that wasn’t there’s. It never was and never will be a white country. Period.

There’s no denying that there is still an issue between the police of Britain and black people; namely their continual “random selections” for drug searches, car stops and of course the way they treat black “criminals” in comparison to white ones. Do you think this is an issue we will ever be able to resolve? How?
The way police in Britain treat black people in comparison to white people is disgusting and the only way to resolve the issue is for police to change their view of black people, particularly black men as “thugs”, “roadmen” and “criminals”. While holding this view of them, they’re unable to distinguish between the real criminals and a simple passer-by, their inability to do so will only increase hatred towards the police. Are they here to protect us or are they here to get rid of us by placing us in jail? I particularly hate how a black person can commit the same crime as a white person but if they claim that the white person has had a tough childhood and sufferers from mental health issues, they get away with it. Who hasn’t had a tough childhood? I don’t think any of our lives have been plain sailing and everyone has suffered or will suffer mentally at one point in their life. What makes white people so deserving of special treatment?

Who are the black people you think we need to be listening to in order to make sure we’re living in a society that’s equal and fair for all? Do we just need to listen to all black people? 
We should be listening to all black people. We are no greater than our neighbour and what I have to say is no less than what someone with a higher social impact, who’s older or a professional has to say. When society decides to listen to all our voices and acknowledge the issues that we are presenting them with then change can happen.

It's been a pleasure to spill the tea with Fran - she is so intelligent, genuine and honest, getting to hear her thoughts on some pretty current topics was so interesting. I hope you've all enjoyed my Spilling The Tea series, and if you'd like me to feature it again with someone else, let me know! 

Just a reminder that you can find Fran on Twitter at @franciscarockey or visit her blog over at www.franciscarockey.co.uk

Love from,
Florence Grace

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Spilling the Tea With Francisca Rockey - Exploring the world of dating...

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This week we’re spilling the tea with blogger Francisca Rockey. So far, we’ve chatted about the blogosphere, taking a last minute gap year and how we canwork to save the world. Today, in the penultimate post of the series, we’re talking about boys and the tricky world of dating… it’s time to spill alllll the tea!

It’s 2018 and now it seems almost impossible to meet someone who isn’t just ‘dtf’ and actually wants a meaningful relationship. What do you think about the dating scene?
The dating scene in 2018 is all about online dating sites. Tinder is the go-to dating site it seems and every other guy is after a quick beat and delete (loooool we love that saying!!!) but there are some gems amongst the f*ckboys.

Do you think the bar is set too low for men to please women?
We see so many tweets saying “omg my man held the door for me 10/10 king ilysm!!!” I saw a tweet the other day that said, “when your other half cleans and then cooks whilst you’re out at meetings” and I thought to myself, are we REALLY praising guys for doing things that they should be doing anyway. The bar is very low. It makes women with high standards seem as though they’re asking for too much when, they just want to be treated properly.

How do you think social media has played a part in modern day dating?
Influencers like Tammy Hembrow and Olivia Bowen appear to have the perfect relationships. Their partners show them off, shower them with gifts and holidays and everything seems smitten. But the reality is, no one shows the cracks of being in a relationship and I feel that a lot of young girls are getting into relationships with these expectations. If you’re 16 and in school, there’s no reason why you should have a LV bag. You aren’t even earning an LV bag wage.

What’s your opinion on cheating… is it ever an honest mistake that can be forgotten or is it always a total no-no?
Where do I even being? To put it lightly, it’s disgusting. There’s no way to justify cheating on someone you supposedly love because if you really loved them, you wouldn’t do something that if they potentially find out, would break their heart. I don’t think there’s any situation that would make it an “honest mistake”, things like that don’t just happen, its premediated. You’ve been thinking about sleeping with someone else or simply talking to another person in a way
that your partner would disapprove of and now you’ve got the opportunity, you’re taking it. Simple as. To my future boyfriend or husband, cheat on me and I’ll leave, simple. Even if kids are in the question, send me that child support money and get out my house.

What kind of man are you looking for? (If you’re looking at all!)
I am looking for a man and I don’t think I’m asking for much at all. I want a man that’s smart (can’t date a dumbass), tall (someone to reach the top cupboard in the kitchen), funny, sporty/outdoorsy (I need a hiking, running and gym partner), financially stable, nice teeth, nice hands (groomed fingers and toenails) and childish (someone I can be goofy with).

Part 5 - the final part of the series - will be live tomorrow and we will be discussing being a black woman in Britain. It's an important finale, so make sure you're here for it!

In the meantime, follow Fran on Twitter at @franciscarockey and visit her blog at www.franciscarockey.co.uk

Love from,
Florence Grace

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Spilling the Tea With Francisca Rockey - Saving the world!

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This week we're spilling the tea with blogger Francisca Rockey. So far, we've chatted about the blogosphere and taking a gap year. Today, we're talking all about the environment and how we can all do our part to save the world.

You describe yourself as an 'Environmentalist by day, blogger by night'. With that in mind, what do you think of the recent information shared that our planet may be totally unlivable in just 12 years time?

It's so sad to think that we have been damaging our planet for years and now we're close to an unlivable state, the government and big companies are finally trying to do something about it. If said governments and companies weren't going to be affected by the 1.5 degree increase in temperature then I doubt they would be intervening, but they're gaining something out of it, hence them wanting to prevent potentially losing business and tourism. I hope that hearing how little time we have to save our planet encourages people to make changes to their lifestyle.

As an environmentalist, what kind of actions do you take to preserve and protect the plant?
An environmentalist is a person who is concerned about protecting the environment. I am conscious of how my lifestyle impacts the environment. For example, even though I can drive, I often opt to use public transport or walk rather than driving everywhere. I use a reusable cup if I buy a drink from a cafe. Instead of chucking old clothes away, I bag them up for charity and send them to my local charity shop, or place them in a clear bag and pop them in a recycling bin so the materials can be reused. I'm far from perfect and there's a lot more I could be doing to preserve and protect the planet, but my actions will only make a small difference - if everyone played their part then we could force the change that needs to happen.

PSA - You can use plastic straws, disposable cups and plastic bags if you recycle/reuse them instead of chucking them in with regular waste.

What advice would you give to people who want to start making more of a change and 'do their part'? 
Track your habits for a week. How much plastic are you throwing away instead of recycling? How many ASOS orders are you making? Did you eat meat every day? Once you're aware of your habits, you can start tackling them. Wash your milk cartons out and put them in the recycling bin, do clothes swaps with friends or shop from your wardrobe instead of making multiple online purchases every week. Have a meat free day or a meat free week - if you can hack it, have a vegan day or week. It's really easy to just do your bit.

Part 4 of Spilling The Tea will be live tomorrow, and we'll be talking all about dating! It's gonna be a juicy one, so make sure you don't miss it! 

In the meantime, you can find Fran on Twitter at @franciscarockey and visit her blog at www.franciscarockey.co.uk

Love from,
Florence Grace

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Spilling the Tea with Francisca Rockey - Taking a gap year

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Yesterday, we got to find out all about one of the sassiest, most 'real' bloggers around - Francisca Rockey. Today, we're finding out all about her decision to take a gap year...

You’re taking a gap year this year. What prompted that decision?
When I started my UCAS application back into 2017, taking a gap year seemed like my best
option, but seeing my friends apply for 2018 entry and being discouraged from deferring saw me applying for 2018 entry. I’ve spent most of the year umming and ahhing about whether going to university this year was for me and by the time results day rolled around, I had lost all excitement. No part of me wanted to go this year anymore. I felt like a balloon full of air and on that day, I was burst. A few days before heading off to Reading, I was sat with one of my close friends and we were having a chat about university and her decision to take a gap year and it was then that I realised, I wanted to take a gap year. Once I got back from Reading, I emailed all the relevant people and withdrew my application for 2018 and the rest is history.

How are you choosing to spend your gap year?
The typical “gap yah” is to travel for most of the year and come back a month or a few weeks before starting uni. Your girl is from a working-class background (this may come as a shock to some people as it’s believed that I come from a wealthy background) and my parents do not have the money to fund that so I’m working and saving until I can. I also want to volunteer for a few charities and organisations in and outside of the UK, take part in NCS but as a leader and work on my blog content.

Do you think there’s enough information out there for students who might want to take a gap year, particularly those who might make that decision last minute?
There’s a lot of resources for people who are taking a gap year and going travelling but there’s close to nothing for people who are taking a gap year to work, take a break or like myself, making the decision last minute. I am going to do a blog post about taking a gap year, how to plan, making the decision etc as I think I could help a lot of people who would like to take one but don’t know how to go about it or think they don’t have enough money to take one.

So what advice do you have any advice for students interested in taking a gap year?
If you’re thinking about it, DO IT. Don’t let any of your friends, family or teachers sway your
decision. After all, it’s you who has to live with the consequences of your decision, no one else and if you decide for someone else, you’re the one who spends the first year in uni or the year of your gap year unhappy. You lose nothing from taking a gap year, but you can lose something from going to uni straight away when you’re unsure.

What university will you be heading to in September and what will you be studying?
I have a post over on my blog about why I’m taking a gap year and in that I mentioned that I am reapplying and altering my course. (You can read that here!) The university that I will be heading to is yet to be confirmed as I am waiting for the Oxbridge application date to pass before I receive my offers. I will be studying earth and environmental sciences, geography and environmental science or environmental sciences, dependant on which uni I decide to go to.

Do you think your mind-set and attitude towards learning and university, and even just life in general, will be different when you go to university next September as opposed to the mind-set and attitude you may have had if you’d gone this September?
 Definitely! I have been on my gap year for 2 months now. Within those two months, I can already see a change in my mindset and attitude towards learning, university and life in general. I was mature before, but I’ve grown a lot over the last 2 months because I’ve
faced a lot of challenges that have made me have to grow up even more so than if I’d gone to university. For example, quitting a job within 2 weeks of starting it and having to find a new job almost immediately or facing unemployment for the first quarter of my gap year.

Part 3 of Spilling the Tea will be live tomorrow, and we'll be talking about being an environmentalist... make sure you don't miss it! 

In the meantime, find Fran on Twitter at @franciscarockey and visit her blog at www.franciscarockey.co.uk

Love from,
Florence Grace

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Spilling the Tea with Francisca Rockey - Who's that girl?

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Photo by Jodie Mitchell
@jodiedcmitchell / jodiedcmitchell.co.uk

Who is Francisca Rockey?

One of my favourite women in the world is Francisca Rockey. Open, honest and full of sass, Fran keeps it real on social media, particularly Twitter, often confronting issues face on and forcing people to address what's really going on in a given situation. You might not have heard of her before, but you're about to get to know her now! We've got a big ol' interview with the lady herself, broken down into five segments and shared with you every day this week!

Spilling the tea on boys, bloggers and being a young black woman in Britain, you'd better take a seat and get comfy... you could be here for a while.

For those who might not have heard of you before, can you fill everyone in on who you are and what you do? 
I'm Francisca (pronounced Fran-sis-ca) Rockey, an 18 year old lifestyle blogger on a gap year. I'm African, born in Barnet, North London. I currently live in Luton but I'm in and out of London all the time! As well as being a blogger, I work full time juggling various jobs to fund my 2019 travel plans and to try and make sure I start uni in September with a bit of cash behind me!

Tell us three interesting facts about you!
I speak more than one language, I'm ambidextrous and I've never broken a bone!

When you're not working, what are we most likely to find you doing?
If I'm not blogging, I'm at the gym or spending time with friends, shopping or in bed until the late afternoon, binge watching Netflix and eating pizza for breakfast at 5pm. (A girl after our own hearts, hey!)

Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is Dunola Oladapo. If you don't know Dunola, get to know! She is the founder of Luton Lights, a Girls 20 Ambassador and part of the #iWILL Fund Leaders Board Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network. She's an inspiration to many because you can look at her and think "I can be something and I can do what she's doing. I don't need to be from a wealthy background or a posh town to get or take opportunities." Hard work gets you to where you want to be! Her Instagram is @dunola_ so go and check it out!

Do you have any words that you like to live by?
"Lux in tenebris" I have this tattooed on my ribs. It's a Latin phrase meaning "light in darkness", a phrase that has stuck with me and is something I now tell myself whenever anything goes wrong. The meaning behind my tattoo is very personal to me - about six months ago, I was going through a rough time, and during that time a lot of things happened, a lot that has changed me mentally. During this time, I discovered a German dramatist called Bertolt Brecht and one of his plays, Lux in Tenebris, The play is about a moralist who campaigns for the closure of brothels - that part is completely irrelevant to my tattoo but it's interesting!!

So let's find out about the blogger in you...

How did you get into blogging?
I started my blog in 2014 after months of reading Zoella's blog in admiration. On June 22nd 2014, I decided to start my own and it's the best decision I ever made.

What kinds of things do you write about?
I used to write about fashion, beauty, lifestyle and fitness but now I see myself as simply a lifestyle blogger. I think having such a wide variety of topics was too much, I wanted a niche, something that you can identify me by.

With blogging being such a huge marketing tool nowadays, particularly in the fashion and beauty industry, what role do you think it plays in the recently highlighted 'fast fashion' issue?
People see their favourite blogger sporting a new pair of wide leg jeans from ASOS and they swipe up or click on the affiliate link and buy them. Say someone has 50,000 followers, that's potentially 50,000 pairs of those jeans that are going to be bought, and when they sell out, the brand is going to mass produce to meet demand. I could talk about the issues with fast fashion all day but I think Stacey Dooley's latest documentary on BBC 3 iPlayer explains it perfectly and highlights the environmental impacts.

Do you think bloggers can create impactful change, be that through campaigns, social media movements etc., or do you think the industry is still struggling to be taken seriously? 
Bloggers can create impactful change. With all our following combined, if we all promote the same message, it will get across to a large audience who will go on to share it on their own socials. I do think there is an issue with campaigns and social media movements, being that bloggers will retweet posts on Twitter discussing problems such as police brutality, global warming and so on, but will make no further comment on it and just continue living their lives as though there aren't issues that need addressing.

For example, we all know that diversity is a huge issue in the blogging industry, and brands like Benefit send the same type of bloggers on every press trip and use the same faces for every campaign - white, skinny, tall and blonde, everything the Western world regards as the definition of beauty. When a blogger of colour is on said campaign, they're ignoring the fact that the brand doesn't promote diversity and so the brand gets away with having just one or two dark shades. It's 2018, there's no reason why brands can't develop shades for every skin tone - it's just down to them not caring and wanting to make their brand exclusive by keeping their 50 shades of beige.

As for the industry not being taken seriously, I think it starts with our community. When we start taking each other seriously, then the public will take us seriously. And by that, I mean if we spend less time tearing each other down for what we post on Instagram, what editing style we use or how much we promote on Twitter and more time lifting each other up, showing support and healping one another then readers will reciprocate that.

Part 2 of Spilling the Tea will be live tomorrow, and we'll be talking all about taking a gap year... make sure you don't miss it! 

In the mean time, find Fran on Twitter at @franciscarockey and visit her blog at www.franciscarockey.co.uk

Love from,
Florence Grace

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22, you've been fun...


I dunnoooo about youuuuuu but I'm feeling twennytwoooooooo

Sorry guys - it's the last day I can sing that and mean it, because as of 3:29pm tomorrow, I will be turning 23. 23!! I can't cope, that just sounds so old to me.

Growing up I thought that by now I'd be married, own my own home and have at least one baby, probably with another on the way.




Can you imagine me with a baby right now? Jonny takes up enough of my time and energy as it is, let alone with a baby too...

But seriously, here I am at 23 and nothing about the life I'm living now is as I planned or expected - or, in some cases, even dreamed. Being 22 has been amazing for me. I've achieved so much - things I would never even have considered being within reaching distance for me. I've cut off some of the most toxic, poisonous people you could imagine and surrounded myself with only the best people in life. I've worked longer and harder, I've found peace with body image and self love and begun working on helping other women (and men!) to do the same.

Life has been treating me so well and some days I can barely believe it's all real - I really am fortunate enough to be leading a very, very good life and I almost feel like it must be a bit of a joke, and any day now someone's going to shout GOT YA! and announce to me that my life is a new series of the Truman Show and nothing that's happened is real.

The last twelve months have seriously flown by, and when I look back on them individually, my mind is blown by all the things I actually did. I really underestimate myself sometimes, but reflecting on the last year has shown me just how much I am capable of achieving, as long as I never stop believing in myself. Since my 22nd birthday last year, I have:

- Met my ultimate hero in life, Tom Hanks (albeit very briefly) and had him say 'Happy birthday!!!' to me, as well as sat and listened to him talk about life for a couple of hours... now that was a great way to start 22!
- Presented my first live gigs, six shows of 1,000 people at a time for Safe Drive, Stay Alive
- Presented the annual staff conference at work to the entire company, including the Managing Director
- Managed to get a promotion at work, upping my hours from 16 to 40 and almost tripling my salary
- Taken on more freelance clients and work
- Turned Love from... magazine into a monthly magazine
- Been to Ibiza, Barcelona, Bristol, Manchester and - as of tomorrow - Rome
- Met Anne-Marie (my hero, my idol)
- Saw Beyonce and Jay-Z (my Queen)
- Become the most confident and happy with myself than I've ever been in my whole life
- Begun working in the radio industry again, even getting to speak on air, and meet some incredible guests
- Starred in a music video for Blushes
- Became a bloody published author!!
- Started taking care of my body and regularly exercising, including doing a weekly workout class
- Moved into my own home with my boyfriend (major omg!!!) and just renewed the contract for another two years
- Celebrated my one year anniversary with Jonny

Wowza. I mean, I moved out of my family home and into my own home - crazier than that, it's a home I'm sharing with a boyfriend. Crazy. I thought 21 was the best year of my life but 22 was seriously good, and if every year can be as good as this one I'll be happy for the rest of my life!!

I'll be celebrating my birthday in Rome for a long weekend and I am so looking forward to alllll the pizza and pasta. Plus, I've wanted to go to Italy forever, so I am seriously excited. 23 is going to be another great year for me I hope - I'm not setting myself any major goals, because I find that now, when I just go with the flow, great things just tend to find their way to me... so let's hope that keeps on happening! However, I already have a couple of sick things planned and several holidays and gigs, so even if nothing else happens besides those, I know that it's going to be a good year.

As I step out of 22 and head into 23, I'm leaving behind all the shitty people I thought had a place in my life, I'm leaving behind toxic thinking regarding my body and weight and I'm leaving behind anything that doesn't bring me happiness and inner peace. No bad vibes over here please! More money, more success, more good health and even more good vibes please! Roll on being 23...

See ya on the flip side gang!

Love from,
Florence Grace

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No such thing as 'too much' love

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The other day, I shared a post on Facebook that really hit home with me. It said:

"My ex used to scold me for wanting affection & my current boyfriend just squatted down next to me to give me kisses JUST because he is getting in the shower. He goes out of his way every single day, SEVERAL times a day just to make sure I feel loved. I prayed about that & I got answers. ‬I always thought the problem was me, that I was just “needy”. No ladies that’s not the case, the person that God designed just for you is out there. Be patient."

I honestly related to this post so much - and I know I'm not the only girl, or even boy, who probably can. So I thought it was time to speak about this a little bit more. 

Some days, I feel needy. I've spoken about how my previous relationship was an unhealthy, abusive one, but whilst I try to suppress memories of what it was like, the other day I discovered a diary from 2013, full of pages that provided intense detail into the ins and outs of my relationship, including the abuse. Sentences such as "I don't know what he'll do next" and "He told me it didn't matter if he hurt me because I hurt myself" were two of many that felt like a punch in the chest as I read them. When trying to read a daily entry out loud to Jonny, I had to stop and turn away, my chest going so tight I could hardly breath. Day in, day out, I was writing the same thing. "He didn't text me today", "he lied about where he was", "he didn't want to see me today", "he cancelled plans with me today". It was heartbreaking to read, and as I was forced to think back on the relationship, I simply couldn't believe how much I had allowed myself to put up with. 

As a result, some days I feel needy. Asking for help, of any kind, feels needy. Wanting to spend time together, feels needy. Wanting to make plans for the future feels risky, uncertain, leaves me fearing I could be cancelled on at any second. It took me a very, very long time to learn that this isn't needy at all - it's called being in love, and it's what a real relationship looks like. 

The person you're with will be happy to hang out with you, to drop you a text, to build a relationship with you. They won't lie, they won't make excuses, they won't ignore you for days on end. They'll communicate, they'll be honest and trustworthy - everything a great partner should do and be.

It's no secret that I was more than a little bit scared when I started a relationship with Jonny last September. I had wall after wall after wall up to protect my stone cold heart - but he smashed through them all and melted me. 

He makes me see that in fact, I'm not needy. I love him the exact right amount, and he loves me. We cuddle all the time (seriously, it's almost all we do I swear!), I often find myself lingering in the doorway of the bathroom whilst he's showering and having a chat, and him me. He calls me all the time, at lunch, on his way home from work, on his way to picking me up. We tag each other in cute dog pictures and funny memes. He kisses me randomly, he kisses me when he's leaving, when he's home from work. I let him sleep on my chest like a big man-baby when he's tired, and baby him when he's sick or sleepy. He makes me hot water bottles when I have cramps, he drives me wherever I need, I make him sandwiches every night. He's never laid a finger on me in a violent way (other than we're pretending to be UFC fighters and he's trying to break free of my death grip) and I am confident he never would. 

He has shown me there is no such thing as "too much" love. 

There's no such thing as "too much" affection. 

I've loved before and been told it was too much, only to then be left feeling like it wasn't enough when he cheated on me. I was told I was clingy, needy, pathetic. I was told I "didn't need to be cuddled all the time", I was denied love and affection almost every day and, because it was my first relationship and I was so young, I just believed that was how it was meant to be. 

And when I came out the other side of that relationship, miserable, unhappy and feeling totally defeated, I vowed that "love" sucked and I wouldn't participate in it ever again. How wrong was I?

‬I always thought the problem was me, that I was just “needy”. No ladies that’s not the case, the person that God designed just for you is out there. Be patient.

I was patient. Patient for 18 months. 18 months of endless fuckboys, of having my feelings walked all over, of building up walls I never wanted broken down because I didn't want to get myself hurt ever again. I prayed to God for some kind of happy ending, and 18 months down the line, he gave it to me. Boy, did he give it to me. 

Jonny is the person who was designed just for me. He was never my type, I never planned to be interested and I certainly wasn't looking for a boyfriend...but it happened anyway. Aren't they always the best kind of relationships? 

Ladies (and gents!), be patient. If the person you're with makes you feel like you have to battle every single day for their love and affection, I'm telling you now, they're not for you. The right person will give you all the love and affection you want, and more, for free. No hassle, no stress, no need to ask or even beg for it. They will love you freely and will accept your love in return, no questions asked. That's the relationship you deserve to be in. Not one where you're always left to second guess. 

You're not the problem. You're not needy. You're not "too much". And the right person will agree with me on that. 

Love from,
Florence Grace

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International Day of the Girl

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Since 2012, we have been marking the 11th October as the International Day of the Girl. It makes sense, when we have an International Women’s Day, to have one for girls too, and the day aims to “focus on the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of human rights.” Each International Day of the Girl comes with its own theme or focus, and this year it’s With Her: A Skilled GirlForce.

There’s absolutely no denying that there is lack of equality in the workplace for women. Of course it varies from job to job, but generally speaking women are paid less, pitted against each other, have men selected over them time and time again and have frequently less opportunities to pursue their dream career or advance in their current career than men do.

The United Nations said that “Of the 1 billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90% of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay and exploitation are common.”

They also stated that, of the quarter of young people who are currently not employed, in training or in education, most of them are female. It’s a sickening statistic that in 2018, women are still struggling to get the same opportunities as men.

Of course, there are a number of reasons for this; some women are expected to be caregivers and therefore can’t go to work or school because they’re looking after siblings, parents, their own children or other relatives. Some can’t get a job because they didn’t perform well at school. Some women are struggling with mental health problems, some have had their confidence knocked at school and don’t feel like they can achieve anything now. In developing countries, young girls are being married off from sickeningly young ages and expected just to be a wife. Their education isn’t supported, they’re raped multiple times a day, expected to carry babies before their bodies are even fully developed – and so education, and as a result, work, takes a back seat.

And there’s still people who sit there and proudly declare that they’re not a feminist.

We need days like International Day of the Girl to remind people exactly why feminism is so important. It’s not about hating men; it’s not about being more important than men. It’s about making sure that women – and girls – have the same opportunities provided to them as men and boys. That at school, girls don’t feel inadequate compared to their fellow boy students. That when trying to get a job, women don’t feel like they’re being treated as lesser than their male colleagues and competitors. And even if you've never experienced this kind of discrimination or struggle, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist and that therefore feminism is unnecessary - feminism goes beyond you, it's important worldwide for women.

Sometimes, yes, a man genuinely does deserve the job more than a woman. He has more qualifications, more experience, more achievements.

But that’s partially where the problem lies – he had more to offer. More that he had the chance to obtain that a large number of girls and young women do not.

Growing up, I’ve always been incredibly fierce, stubborn and independent. I have always gone after exactly what I wanted, with the full support of my parents behind me.

When I wanted to join judo, they were right behind me. I fought a couple of girls, but mostly I was fighting boys. As I got older – and heavier – I was fighting men, literally throwing them over my shoulder across the mat. When I moved up a group to match my age/weight, I was put in a group of men. I was the only girl, but did I let that stop me? No. I won trophies, I won 5 medals, I fought at the Bucks Youth Games representing this county. I was really good at what I did.

When I took up guitar – and then bass guitar too – my parents didn’t stop me. My dear old mum carried my two guitars to school every week (plus pushed a pushchair and sometimes had my sisters saxophone too!) and allowed me to join every band and group going. I performed at the Royal Albert Hall on numerous occasions, I performed at (and won!) the Music For Youth Festival with my school’s jazz band twice. I performed on TV for a kids programme about young children with musical talents. And when I was taking my guitar lessons, just me and one boy who’s Dad played guitar, I surpassed his grades and smashed my own with higher levels and went on to win my schools Music Trophy for my contribution to music at the school.

I aced swimming classes, I attempted ballet lessons and street dance classes, I was cast in school plays, I was in the local paper representing my school more times than I can count, I’ve won awards and certificates and trophies – I’ve been an obnoxious over-achiever my whole life and as a result have been able to build a very successful future for myself (so far, anyway!)

I was confident in myself, independent and strong, because I’d always been fortunate enough to have a support system around me that believed in me, and made me believe in myself. Whether I was throwing boys over my shoulder, beating their grades or just sassing them in the playground at school, growing up I’ve always made sure I was better than the boys – and no one, least of all a boy, was going to stop me from getting what I wanted and being the best.

This won’t be the same for every girl though, far from it. I’m privileged to have achieved this. My parents supported me and all my ambitions no matter what. Whether I wanted to be a singer, an author, a zoologist, a radio DJ, a photographer, a journalist… it doesn’t matter, they supported me in any way they could. They paid for classes, courses, offered encouragement and help. I was really lucky.

But not all girls are this lucky. Not everyone has supportive parents like mine, and not everyone has the motivation to get through school without supportive parents or family members. Not everyone is pushed to achieve, and not everyone has the same doors opened to them as a result of this. That’s what we need to be focusing on this International Day of the Girl, and every day going forward.

The UN have pledged to spend this October 11th – and every day for the next year – “bringing together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, draw attention and investments to, the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability”

We need to help girls and young women as much as we can. We need to help them see their own brilliance, their own strength. We need to encourage them and support them when they might not be getting that encouragement or strength from anywhere else. We need to be building them up, boosting their confidence and empowering them to the point where they feel comfortable going after the same opportunities boys and men do.

On this International Day of the Girl, let’s take a moment to think about how fortunate we might be, and think about those who might be less fortunate than us. Let’s also spend some time thinking about what we can do to help those in need. Could you donate to a charity, get involved with a local school to do some work with female students? Could you make up some care packages to send to girls in developing countries, give a sister, niece or even a daughter some advice?

Women are strong on their own, but we’re even stronger when we come together. Female empowerment is quite unbreakable and definitely a force to be reckoned with. In a world that’s so determined to break us down, let’s fight back and make sure we’re standing up to it instead!

We don’t just need to encourage girls to chase a future bigger and brighter than they could imagine – we need to pave the way for them too.

Love from,
Florence Grace

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We don't like fat women being confident.

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We don't like fat women being confident.

It's not a question, it's not an opinion, it's true. When fat women become visible to us, when fat women have their voices heard, we are appalled.

"How dare this fat woman upload a selfie to Instagram in her bikini? She's promoting obesity! Think about her followers! How disgusting, she's so unhealthy, she needs to diet"

I mean, wow. Telling anyone they need to diet is never really a polite thing to do as it is, but when it's done on social media, under a photo a fat woman has uploaded because she thinks she looks great, it's just ten times more venomous.

This is not an "unpopular opinion" by any means, and is not an uncommon post either. I see at least one tweet a day that looks like this.

Of course, the discussion of visible fat women and body positivity has really become more prominent since Tess Holliday made it onto this month's cover of Cosmopolitan magazine - and, in my opinion, she looks great. I don't actually like Tess all too much - there was some scandal a while back about her taking money she was supposed to have raised for charity blah blah, and so I've never followed her or anything like that, so I am totally not biased towards her at all. Regardless, I've never given her weight a second thought.

Once people saw the Cosmo cover, we got what you always get when fat women become visible in mainstream media - nasty, critical people fat shaming but disguising it as being "concerned about health". Because that's what always happens, isn't it? We see a fat woman being given a platform and people immediately become concerned with her "health" - when really, they just can't stand seeing someone who isn't typically attractive on a poster, a billboard, a magazine cover. I think Em Clarkson summed it up best in her blog post when she made the comparison between smoking and obesity; we put smokers, drinkers, even drug addicts on the cover of magazines and at the forefront of ad campaigns and no one bats an eyelid, because they're slim, pretty, desirable. Yet put a fat woman in the same position and suddenly everyone is concerned about health - and everyone just so happens to be a health expert, too. It could almost be funny if people weren't so nasty about it.

And it's definitely a problem specifically with women, too. Think about it - think about all the overweight and even "obese" men we see in mainstream media; James Corden, Michael McIntyre, Jonah Hill, Chris Moyles, DJ Khaled... the list goes on. All of these men are significantly overweight (although the likes of Michael and Jonah do fluctuate) and all have brilliant, successful careers that involve them being thrust into the limelight time and time again. Do we ever bat an eyelid? Demand to know their daily diet, question their health, tell them they're disgusting, overweight and a bad example to their fans? Do we hell. We do nothing but praise and support their careers with absolutely no questions asked.

It's undoubtedly an issue with fat women, as opposed to fat people. The world hates a confident woman, let alone a fat confident woman! Honestly, how dare someone love themselves and be bigger than a size 14? 

My favourite example of a "healthy fat woman" is Ashley Graham. A famous, gorgeous plus sized model, people often use her as the "acceptable" example of a plus size woman. Want to know why?

It's because she's sexy. In comparison with other plus sized girls, Ashley Graham's tummy is relatively flat in most of her photos. She has curves in all the right places and is sexy, desirable - and therefore, the perfect example of a plus sized woman we're more than happy to see on the cover of a magazine. She's big, but not too big. Society can accept that.

The other week a fantastic article was published via Huffington Post titled "Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong". After you've read this post, or maybe even right now, read this article, because it will enlighten you on so many things and blow your mind.

The article talked about how fat people are treated in society as well as in doctors surgeries, where one woman talked about an experience where she was congratulated for having an eating disorder as it meant she was losing weight. In a world where being thin seems to be the only goal for most, apparently having an eating disorder that makes you lose weight is totally okay.

The article also goes on to talk about how being skinny doesn't necessarily mean fit or, more importantly, healthy by any means, which is something I preach all the time. Skinny doesn't equal healthy by any means whatsoever, and we should never look at a skinny person and assume they're healthy in the same way we need to stop looking at fat people and assuming they're unhealthy. We need to stop judging a book by its cover. Skinny doesn't equal healthy. Skinny doesn't equal healthy. Skinny doesn't equal healthy!!!

Let's talk about that word promoting...
When we see a fat woman in the media, a lot of people suddenly get very upset. We see a lot of "She's promoting obesity!!! How dare she! Think of the young viewers who will see this!" I'm sorry, but unless she's wearing a sparkling banner and waving a flag over her head that says "Obesity is great, we should all be obese. Yay, obesity!", then she's not promoting obesity.

In the same way that the Kardashians don't promote plastic surgery just by getting a boob job when we see them on a magazine cover, in the same way that divorced celebs aren't promoting break ups, in the same way people who take drugs aren't promoting going out and doing a line of coke... a fat woman isn't promoting obesity by being fat.

When we talk about women promoting obesity, we reduce them to nothing more than their weight, their size, their physical appearance. We don't care about what they've achieved or why they're being given a mainstream platform - be it for business success, an important campaign or whatever else - we just care about what they look like. And, their health, apparently.

But where is their concern when a smoker is on the cover of a mag, in a movie, in an advert? Where is their concern when an abuser is cast in a TV series or film? Where is their concern when a drug addict is being interviewed? Somehow this concern just magically disappears...until a fat woman appears, and then suddenly these health activists are out in full force! And again, these health activists never appear when there's an obese man around... only when there's a fat woman. Amazing, isn't it?

And let's talk about the NHS...
One thing that comes up time and time again when a fat woman is being seen in mainstream media is the topic of the NHS, and how much this singular fat person must be costing the NHS. According to a BBC article from 29th April 2018, obesity costs the NHS around £6.1bn a year. That's obviously a huge figure and one that people love to push at obese people, reminding them of their cost to the tax payer. But let's throw a few more facts out there, because whilst obesity is costing £6.1bn...

  • According to this article in The Independent, in 2015 the government provided funding of £150 million for young people with eating disorders. 
  • The same article cited that obesity costs the NHS around £6.1bn a year, eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia cost more than £15bn a year.
  • According to this article from 2017, the NHS spend anything from £2bn to £6bn a year on smoking related diseases. The article also goes on to explain that tax payers don't just foot the NHS fees either - tax money is spent sweeping up cigarette butts from the streets and also on the fire brigade, putting out fires that are started by cigarettes.
  • This article in The Guardian shared the stats that claimed the NHS spend £3.5bn on alcohol-related conditions and an additional £3.4m writing out 195,000 prescriptions for alcohol-related conditions.
  • An NHS stats sheet shared that in 2015/2016 there were 15,074 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs whereas in 2016/2017 there were 10,705 admissions with obesity recorded as the main cause.

Take a look at those stats... and it's still only fat women you want to get mad at? So what if we have a celeb who smokes promoting products and talking about their successful life, we don't because they're thin! Who cares if she costs the NHS up to £6bn a year and wastes fire services time? She's thin! It's okay! 

Put a fat woman in that same position and suddenly people want to talk about the cost to the NHS and the tax payer. Okay then! People are so concerned about how much these obese women are costing, but look how much is spent on people who are anorexic and bulimic? Disorders that often (but by no means always - they can happen to ANYONE) lead you to being dangerously thin...yet we don't care when someone slim graces a magazine cover because the world has told us that to be thin is to be desirable. That being thin is the end goal. It's a disgusting message to preach and it's sad. Very, very sad.

It's also worth noting that not all obese people end up going to hospital for all the obesity-related illnesses you can think of. When I was 17-21 I was classed as obese because of my height to weight ratio and in those four years never had a problem other than eczema - a health problem I've had since birth. When you're obese your risk of getting certain illnesses and diseases is increased, but it's not a certainty.

Fat women aren't being glorified - they're being celebrated!
Finally, we are starting to celebrate fat women. Pretty Little Thing just collaborated with Ashley Graham to bring out a collection that goes from size 4-24, Nasty Gal just expanded their clothing range to include a range of bigger sizes and to be more inclusive, Tess Halliday has been on the cover of Cosmo. The world is changing, and whilst a lot of people still aren't being very receptive to it, enough of us are for brands to be paying attention. Fat women are being given the same platforms and opportunities thin women are and I am here for it - but there's no denying that there's still a long way to go.

We're not asking for obesity to be promoted. We're not asking for everyone to live their life with the aim of being a size 28. We're just asking that you let these women live their lives the way anyone else is allowed to live theirs - without comment, without criticism and without judgement. Let them post photos of themselves and be confident without being screenshot and mocked on Twitter. Let them wear bikinis to the beach without making a bitchy comment. Let them eat a burger without you lecturing them about their health or their diet. 

Fat women - and fat people, for that matter - deserve to live their life without constantly being judged, being the subject of bullying and abuse. They deserve to do exactly as they please they way everyone else does without being questioned by masses of trolls on social media, without having to answer to people pretending to be concerned with their health.

It's time more of us were more body positive and also embraced more women who are confident, no matter their size. Let's not drag them down, try and belittle them, just because they might be more confident than us. Let's not drag fat women down because they're doing what we've been told over and over only a thin woman can do. Let's celebrate them instead! Let's celebrate all women, of course - but let's make sure that "all women" includes fat women too!

Love from,
Florence Grace

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