Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

High On Likes

Ten years ago, if a guy were to approach you in a club, knowing your name and other details about your life, you would run away and scream, “Stalker!”

Now, if a guy does the same, it’s cool; he follows you on Instagram.

It happened to me a few months ago and the guy quickly became aggressive when I apologised for not knowing who he was. It wasn’t cool, it freaked me out.

This angry stranger “followed” my life is pictures. Scrolling through my posts attempting an outside point of view made me feel sick: there were photos of me and my friends in bikinis on holiday, selfies, modelling photos half naked… All which seemed innocent, fun and worst of all normal at the time now seemed seedy and boastful in this weird collection of exhibitionism and narcissism called My Profile.

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It was the last straw on something I’d considered for a while. I disabled my account.

Alarmingly, I’d never thought about Instagram in terms of my privacy. Instead, I’d been building up to disable it after realising that it affected my mental health in a negative way.

Within an hour, no less than four people had sent me texts, ranging from concerned to hurt, asking why I had ‘deleted’ them. I later learned that they had been told this through an app which alerts you when you’re followed or unfollowed by an account. People really are invested in this thing. Relationship dynamics are affected and ego’s are hurt.

Social media is weird. The terms “follow”, “like”, and “share” mean completely different things now than they did years ago, with those phrases and others like “retweet, unfriend, block” becoming everyday conversational dialogue. Social media has become as normal as brushing your teeth.

So many relationships begin, grow, or solely exist in cyberspace. Whole persons and careers are created and maintained on smart phone applications. On a whole, social media is undeniably dumbing us down and running our lives, but I believe Instagram to be the worst; Twitter is a platform for words, a space to be intelligent, funny, witty, charming in 140 characters or less. Facebook, however you use it, is designed to share and keep in contact with friends and family – but Instagram? Instagram puts importance on the physical image. You can write a funny caption, but it’s the photo above it that’s going to get ‘liked’.

Yes, it can be used to share beautiful photographs. But it is photos of people  – particularly attractive women’s faces and bodies – that receive the most likes. Just look at the 11 most liked photo’s on Instagram ever – the physical is of sole-importance.

 

 

It allows us to construct our own fairy-tale image; psychologists use the term ‘self-presentation’, “positioning yourself the way you want to be seen.” A study found that self-presentation is so powerful, that viewing your own social media profiles increases self-esteem.

Compilation of boastful, ‘fun’ posts featuring me as an apparent party girl who holidays more than she’s at home

But Instagram never made me feel good. I’d subconsciously compare myself to everyone else seemingly having a better time, looking their posed, filtered best, usually from the comfort of my own bed while I looked like a frog. We never scroll through Instagram when we’re having fun, do we? I would only scroll when I had nothing better to do, making me receptive to negative feelings of boredom or loneliness before photos had even loaded. I would often close the app feeling undeniably depressed. So why did I continue to use something that was bad for my mental health?

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I’d never thought much about why and what I post until I disabled my account. When I was modelling I used Instagram to network with photographers and promote freebies like skincare and haircuts. I never felt that I was sharing too much of myself. But amongst those arguably useful posts are a few that, after my reflective time out, I now see as nauseatingly narcissistic.

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I actually thought I had made it acceptable because I was being philosophical in my caption, lol

 

Why at 23 years old did I feel that it was necessary to post a photo of myself in a bikini, alone, while on holiday with my boyfriend? The honest answers are:

  1. I wanted my followers to know I was on holiday.
  2. I obviously didn’t think I looked bad, or else I wouldn’t have posted it – I wanted my followers to see that I looked alright.
  3. I knew that a photo of a girl in a bikini will get the likes that, at the time, I unknowingly craved.

It all sounds arrogant, but are you honestly going to tell me that you can’t relate? Chances are you, your friends, your girlfriend, have posted photos for the same reasons. Why else would you take time out of your day to share a photo of yourself to the internet?

We are an insecure generation, constantly feeding off likes and follows for some sense of empty validation from strangers. Although I may look confident in that pink bikini, and at the time I thought I was – if I hadn’t needed validation then I wouldn’t have posted it. My ‘racy’ photos littering my feed now make me feel uncomfortable, especially now realising that strangers have studied them.

Compilation of meaningless, strictly narcissistic, vainglorious, egomaniacal posts posted by yours truly

After my much needed detox, the image of a girl alone in a bathroom seems like the epitome of vanity and shameless narcissism. I want to scream at her, “No one cares! Go jump in the pool! Go live your life! No one needs to see that!”. Yet, 99% of sexualised female celebrities and models do exactly the same thing and are praised for it.

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I recommend every one –even those who think I’m dramatic for thinking an app could affect my mental health – carry out a social media detox for a week and see if you notice a difference in how you think or live your life. I personally have so much more time for productivity; all the time you spend taking photos, or thinking about what photos to post and simply looking into other people’s lives, really does add up.

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The main thing that was putting me off disabling or deleting was FOMO and keeping up appearances; almost as if not posting was in inkling to the outside world that all was not well. But trust me, you are missing out way more on actual real life than what other people are up to. And those ‘likes’ lose importance strangely quickly. After six weeks, I reactivated my account, but now peeking into others’ lives feels really invasive. I have also completely lost that need to post; once or twice I have almost posted something and then asked myself, why?

Close the apps, put down the phone and enjoy the moment. If you’re going to take photos, print them, and give thought to the ones you do post. Don’t try to create an image of the perfect life – live your version of your perfect life.

The only person you should let validate your life is yourself.

PS. Follow @_theluckyleo on Instagram (no selfies, I promise)

ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM GOOGLE IMAGES & MY OWN INSTAGRAM 

 

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Happiness

KIM K AND THE FEMINIST CONTRADICTION

Among other socially important news stories this week – Kim Kardashian posted a selfie.

But alas, not the conventional, head and shoulders, face-drowned-in-make up-with-immacuate-shiny-hair kind. The naked in front of a bathroom mirror kind.

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In months, a week or even days, the media excitement and fan frenzy will die down until it’s tossed on the pile of previous mildly shocking celebrity activity, along with her full frontal Paper Magazine photo shoot and her sex tape.

But for now at least, general opinion seems to be divided into two categories: the, “Wow, she’s so hot and confident, good for her!” side, and the “Wow, what an attention seeking little whore” side.

I personally have very mixed opinions on the subject.

Love them or loathe them, we cannot escape the fact that over the last eight or so years, the Kardashian klan have taken over the celebrity ‘tabloid’ world once dominated by Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. I’ve read arguments that the sudden growth in reality TV and social media was the end of the tabloid, murdering the middle man by letting the viewers and the followers hear it and see it from the horses mouth, making the once untouchable, fantasy like public figures infinitely accessible. E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians is arguably the biggest reality show ever made, making a whole family of privileged, non-talented, not extremely interesting individuals the most popular celebrities of this decade. In 2003, Kim Kardashian was a young woman giving Ray-J a blow job and receiving (what looked like the most dull and unsatisfying) cunnilingus (I have ever seen). Eleven years later, she was on the cover of American Vogue. She went from sex-tape-with-a-B-list-Rapper-trash to modern American ‘Royalty’. (Sorry, Will and Kate)

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The fact is, the reason that Kim Kardashian and her family are so famous is prominently due to her appearance in the sex tape. It’s apparently what garnered interest in momager Kris Jenner’s show pitch. So firstly, why people are so shocked that Kim posted a naked selfie I have no idea. Plus, her titties and nooni are ‘modestly’ covered with post-edit black strips – I mean, I’ve already seen her bare vagina in LOVE and Paper magazine and have seen her bare arse one million more times than I will ever see my own. It’s hardly new imagery, is it?

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The word ‘feminism’ means different things to different people.

Some purely believe that feminism means ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’ – the Oxford definition of the term.

Some believe it is the females power to do whatever the hell she wants to do with herself or her own body as long as she’s not hurting anyone else. Some believe feminism means that women shouldn’t be the sexual objects that over centuries they’ve been glorified to be.

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So in the same breath, Kim could be seen as the anti feminist and the heroine of feminism, depending on your individual view. Whether she was in control of the sex tape release or not, on some level subconsciously, Kim lost ownership of her body. Anyone with access to the internet could and still can view her body in the act of sex/making-love/fucking, an act which is mostly conducted in private with hopefully loving and comfortable connotations. If it’s true that the tape was released completely against her will, then in some sense Kim was deemed control less and ultimately sexualised in the most horrendous way. Her private life was and is everyone’s property. For Kim or her handlers to turn that awful violation into millions of dollars, a brand and a career is arguably the greatest feminist victory. You can’t argue that Kim’s hustle is second to none. Along with the heavily constructed reality show, social media means that her and her family can be in complete control of what we all see. This selfie is a perfect example of that sentiment; her body is beautiful (as is her bathroom), she took the photo and she released it. Like her body, it is completely hers. Just because we as the public can view it, doesn’t change that. Plus, why does her naked body have to mean that it’s sexual? She isn’t posed in an overtly provocative way. The caption, “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL” is directed more to women than it is to men. I mean, it’s just a body. A body that has produced two babies. We all have the same reflection just before we step into the shower, whatever shape or size we are or how styled our hair or faces. If Kim is a whore, does that make Venus de Milo one too? (OMG Venus is such a slut, standing there parading her tits and almost showing her vag! Does she have no shame?)

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Call this comparison crazy, but man (humans) ‘created’ Kim Kardashian in the same way he (they) sculpted Venus.

“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.”

― John Berger, Ways of Seeing

And yes, feminism is equality between the sexes. So why is it that men can post nude photos, get their dicks out at every opportunity, moon like ten year olds and walk around with their BARE NIPPLES on show in the summer without a bat of an eyelid?

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But on the other hand, I have to admit: there is still a part of me that finds it a little bit… well… sad. I’m currently searching deep within myself to confirm why I feel that while fully standing for the paragraph above. All I can gather is that I find it sad that we, as a Western society, obsessed with appearance, bourgeoisie and celebrity, created the Kardashian-kraze in the first place. The whole image of the family and their whole lifestyle is an astronomical glorification of fame and money as overarching life goals. I find it sad that we have placed someone with no significant spirit, courage, talent, and magnanimity, bravery, intelligence, or perseverance, so high on a pedestal that young girls could look up to her. Kim and her sisters are only really famous for their bodies and the men that they marry, subsequently suggesting that they only know their worth through their appearance, patriarchal acceptance and the male gaze. I don’t know that many pre teen girls to ask, but from what I gather, quite a few of them look up to the Kardashians. Instagram is to them what radio and television was to me growing up – powerfully manipulative contributors to adult psyche. If posting a photo if your naked body is celebrated and then normalised, I have no doubt that young girls will start posting similar things themselves. Kim’s selfie could give a much darker message – your appearance/sexuality is your worth. You are a sexual object.

It’s sad because women shouldn’t have to show off their bodies to be looked up to, or to emphasis their talent, confidence or power. No matter how talented she is, the focus is always predominantly  on the female celebrities sexuality.

Of course, negative responses from other celebrities were rife. Kim began tweeting those that had openly criticised her. Among those were Bette Midler (someone who is incredibly successful without ever using her sexuality) with a relatively witty response, and teenage actress Chloe Moretz, who is yet to succumb. Kim went on to age-shame (have I just created a new discrimination?) Bette and “attempted” to slut-shame Chloe over a Nylon cover featuring Chloe and her bare leg. In all honesty, I would have stuck with my initial argument and maybe even respected Kim a little bit if she hadn’t retaliated and had instead marvelled in her own confidence with an unfuckwitable silence. But, who am I to pass comment or to even have an opinion… It’s her life.

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Klassy.

Mainly, it’s sad that we care so much about any of this. Perhaps if the sexes were equal (trust me, we are far from it), there wasn’t such intense emphasis on female sexuality, women were not so cautious, conscious or considerate of their appearance and more confident and content within themselves, all we would see when we refreshed our Instagram feeds (maybe there wouldn’t even be a need for Instagram) was a grown woman standing in her bathroom.

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Inspiration, Style

A Love Letter to: Chokers

I’m not big on trends. My dress sense is pretty boring; bar maybe two or three items of colour, my entire wardrobe is black and, at risk of sounding pretentious, ‘miminalist’. I prefer to stick to relatively timeless pieces and I flat out refuse to buy anything that will for sure be out of fashion in six months time – partly because I am economic with spending – but mostly because I don’t really care about how ‘fashionable’ I appear to others. (I promise that you will never find a here’s-what-I-wore-today post on this blog)

But I am a sucker for jewellery. I feel naked if I leave the house without a ring on every finger and count scouring Etsy for pendants as a weekly hobby. Therefore, a trend that I am personally really enjoying right now is chokers.

If you’d told me five years ago that girls would soon be donning those stretchy plaited tattoo chokers from the nineties, I’d have cringed and spat out whatever I was eating at the time. But sure enough, with the monuments resurge of nineties fashion, they became a staple in every sassy kitsch gal’s OOTD, along with crop tops, flatforms, flannel shirts, baggy denim and Adidas shelltops.

Believe it or not, a young Drew Barrymore wasn’t the first woman to model a tight band around her neck – there is actually an intriguing history behind the unassuming choker.

During the French Revolution, women began tying red ribbons around their necks as a tribute to recipients of the guillotine.

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In the 1800’s, a black ribbon worn around the neck was a signifier that the woman was a prostitute. In vast contrast, it was also popular amongst ballerinas. Pre celebrity, female royals were the fashion icons of their time. Alexandra, Princess of Wales, donned thick rows of pearls and velvet ribbons, reportedly to cover a scar on her neck. The Alexa Chung of her time, the popularity of ‘chokers’ sky rocketed, and elevated the trend to high society women.

A century later, chokers were prominent amongst the fashion icons of the 1960’s.

And then… along came punk. Chokers became A LOT more sexually suggestive with a not so subtle bondage connotation.

But the 1990’s was undoubtedly the peak of the choker. Personally, I see the standout 90’s choker as Mathilda’s in Leon: The Professional. 

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A close runner up being Nancy’s in The Craft.

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Honestly, I’m not a lover of the tattoo choker or the beaded variety. Maybe it’s because it sub consciously conjures memories of gel pens and school discos. But very recently, I’ve seen many a celebrity and party goer wearing thicker, plain versions.

 

First time around, I found the 90’s versions really unflattering. I remember my mum wearing them and thinking it ruined her previously acceptable (by nineties and early noughts standards) outfits. But somehow, these recent pieces are in contrast extremely flattering and in most cases, extremely sexy; maybe because of the s&m implication… Maybe because it takes confidence to wear something so restricting and harsh.

In fact, like my rings, recently I feel underdressed if I haven’t added a chocker around my neck. Instead of taking away from an otherwise girly or understated outfit, somehow, this simple accessory can completely elevate an outfit, act as a statement piece in amongst minimalism, and appear sophisticated as well as bohemian, depending on your styling.

There is even a sudden surge of thick neck ties connected to tops or dresses. They’re not yet in every high street store – the best I’ve seen while searching online are by BooHoo and American Apparel.

Even movie star Kate Hudson sported a dusty pink version at the the Golden Globes this week, elevating the trend to Hollywood and to the masses.

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But if this look is too bold for you, finding simpler chokers online is easy. And it’s so easy to make your own unique version. I have used black wool and a charm… Plenty of creative master minds are selling their own handmade pieces on EBay and, my favourite market place, Etsy.

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IN CONCLUSION. Chokers have a beautiful, long winding history, proving that a ‘trend’ can be timeless and unique to you and your own personal style.

LEO X

(ALL IMAGES FOUND ON WWW.PINTEREST.COM)

 

 

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Advice, Inspiration, Style

A Love Letter to: Biker Jackets:

There are two things in this world that I am a self confessed sucker for: The former being a beautifully cut biker jacker made from excellent quality leather.

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The latter? Moody male musicians wearing them.

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How appropriate then, that the second offering of the ALL SAINTS Portrait Series, features “New York’s most exciting new bands, wearing men’s and women’s ALL SAINTS bikers.” They got me real good with that one. I had confirmed my order within five minutes.

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Biker jackets have been considered cooler than the flip side of the pillow since the God Daddy of cool himself, Marlon Brando, rode into Hollywood as Johnny in ‘The Wild One’  in the early fifties. Ever since, it has been a firm favourite of bad boys, punks and supermodels alike.

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Johnny Depp And Kate Moss

Anyone that has ever visited London (or even watched a Richard Curtis film) knows that the whole weather thing really is not just a figure of speech. It’s a tragic turmoil that haunts me everyday. Although, there is a silver lining in this never ending rain cloud: the one item of clothing that survives with me through an abundance of London weather, from Sunny Summer days in Sloane Square to Torrential Tsunami’s in Tottenham is the LEATHER JACKET, and there is never a wrong time to invest.

Here is a carefully compiled list of why it deserves to forever reign as Queen of the outwear Kingdom.

1. It will (probably) never ever ever go “out of fashion”

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The leather jacket will never be a nostalgic item. Even the padded, overly belted variety of the great 1980’s could be pulled off today if worn with enough confidence. It’s a classic. Period.

2. It adds a punch to the sweetest of sugary outfits.

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The leather jacket and I are now so bound to one another that If I’m wearing anything that isn’t black leather I feel grossly girly and weak. Like Samson after his haircut. I could be wearing a picnic dress, ballerina pumps and pink lipstick – slip a leather over the top and I go from Bubblegum Princess to Badass Bitch in five seconds or less.

3. It’s all-weather resilient (IF you invest in good quality)

Don’t believe me? Rain is completely rejected from your body as if you’re snuggled inside one of those plastic pram covers from your earliest memories. And if you’re not a fan of the layering/bag lady look, there are plenty with a thicker leather, fur or even inside padding, while remaining light and looking amazing. Lucky enough to be getting some vitamin D? Throw one over your shoulders in the evenings like a tomboy Gilda.

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These are my three very favourite investment pieces from the ALL SAINTS A/W14 collection.

Hainton Jacket – £698

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This is definitely as investment piece. I know it’s at the higher end of high street prices this can truly be worn season after season for years (granted to take good care of her). The British Merino sheepskin gives a good ol’ classic a little edge while keeping you cosy on those dreary winter days in London.

Range Leather Biker Jacket – £398

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Now I really hate to go all nineties DIY girl on you but… THIS JACKET HAS REMOVABLE SLEEVES. So you’re basically getting two jackets in one – one for winter, and one for spring/summer, and hopefully staying with you for a good few seasons. Perhaps not as long as a pet dog, but at least a small rabbit…

Bayes Shearing Leather Jacket – £698

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Echoing the masculine-feminine style of the original feminist fashion icon Amelia Earhart, the traditional biker design has been interpreted through a fresh, modern eye. Another investment piece (I have expensive taste, what can I say?), it’s fur is peeeeeerfect for the cold months, and also has detachable lower arms so that you can roll up your sleeves come summer.

What A/W 14 pieces are on your leather jacket Christmas List?

Check out the ALL SAINTS Portrait Series Part Two HERE.

(No images shown above belong to THE LUCKY LEO; all were taken from Google and Pinterest)

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