Sunday, 14 December 2014

Bikini's, Body Hair and Body Positivity


So Annika, Matilde and I are currently on an amazing holiday with friends and family down at the beach. After the most stressful semester/ few months ever, it seems ridiculous to wake up in the morning and not need to do anything except maybe shower, and failing that I can just throw my bod into the sea. 

Over the past year, I have been learning to accept and embrace my body, and for me that journey has partially meant (at least for now) quitting shaving and seeing what would happen. I have copped a fair bit of bullying for it (mainly from mean-heads on instagram), but for the most part I have enjoyed the whole process. One thing I have discovered is that my most of my hair is BRIGHT ORANGE, and when people comment it's mostly to tell me how pretty the colour is. I used to be teased for having a lot of ginger hair all over my body in primary and high school, but now I'm just trying to own it. Red hair (and all hair) is pretty.  

This isn't to say that you have to grow your hair long or love your body hair-- for starters, I experience privileges of being white that means that I have a different experience of having body hair to some people. I've been bullied for my body hair, sure, but it's never been racialized, and that's really important thing to remember. Body hair isn't the be all and end all of being a feminist, this is just where I'm at right now.

 (I'll just briefly explain that I burst a blood-vessel in my eye which is why I kinda look like a vampire)

This beach trip was actually the first big beach visit that I have made this year with my
 new fuzzy bod. And also the first time I've really felt comfortable in a bikini since I broke up my longstanding and unhealthy relationship with dieting. Now instead of sitting on my towel worrying about my body, I'm actually going swimming, and enjoying the things my body can do, instead of worrying about the space that my body is taking up. And it's still a process, and I still have my doubts, but for the most part, woo-hoo!

It also helps to have a ridiculously cute swimsuit and even more ridiculously cute friends (who also have cute swimsuits...)

This being said, having a pretty swimsuit is not a requirement for feeling good about yourself at the beach. I have in the past felt better in boxer shorts and a big shirt, and one time I went swimming in a long dress and felt like a mermaid. And sometimes if I get the chance I just ditch clothes all together. 

My advice for looking good at the beach would be to just wear whatever makes you feel comfy and happy. Cover-up or strip-down. Go swimming or sit on the beach and read a book. You're not obliged to splash about like you're in a tourism ad. Enjoy your body for whatever it can do. Just don't forget to wear sun-block-I did, and MY BUTT IS ENTIRELY SUNBURNT!!!

And I mean like entirely sunburnt. From the back of my ankles to my butt is red-raw and I can barely sit down. It's put a bit of a damper on my holiday but hey, it's nothing a good friend rubbing aloe-vera on your butt can't help. 

I've realised that quite a few of my followers are on the other side of the world, and seeing us running around in our swimsuits right now must be a bit odd. I'm really sorry. If it helps, I'm actually really envious of the whole White Christmas deal. And for the most part I actually hate the heat. I get heat-rage, and turn into a hideous sweat monster. That bites. 

So yeah, I'd probably go for a bit of cold and snow right now. Being at the beach is good though coz at least I can throw myself into the sea if I feel like I'm turning into heat- monster-Katie.

I mentioned in my last post that I got this swimsuit from an Etsy store called Venderstore, and I super love it. Again, the only thing I would say if you were buying from them is to size down! This bikini (mainly the top) is held on mainly by thousands of rubber bands and sheer will. I'm also lucky that my butt is big enough to really hold anything up.

That's it from me today. Hope you're all having a good week!

Love, Katie xxx

Monday, 8 December 2014

It's Too Hot To Blog/ I Dyed My Hair Green Sort Of


I have been wanting to blog so much lately but I have been just the biggest laziest most stressed-out university student. It has also been a million degrees here in Sydney so motivation to put on cute threads and hop outside for a casual photo-shoot is akin to trying to take selfies in a sauna. So if I were to take outfit photos that were completely representative of reality, it would be a lot of me grumping around in my underwear.

But I thought I would do a catch-up post featuring some photos I have on my phone and on my Instagram, and some recent thoughts and things and stuff just to keep to ball rolling. Is that the correct idiom? Fun fact: I have no idea how to use idioms.

So when I have begrudgingly decided to decorate the perspiration cave I currently reside inside of (read: my body) it has sometimes looked a little bit like this:

This is my favourite dress, and I got it for about $3 at my favourite thrift shop.

I wore this to work after having about an hours sleep, so I look a little sleepy. That's why I have really mastered the look-down-and-away pose.

 The reason I didn't sleep is that it was too hot. Did I mention that it's too hot? Also, the heat attracted about a thousand bugs to my room and I spent the whole night trying to lure them into the hallway by turning off my bedroom lights and switching the hall lights on and then just standing around in the hall like a dork willing them to come out. It didn't work so I got my sleeping bag and camped in the lounge room.

One thing I *have* been doing to fight the heat is trying to find reasonably priced handmade/ thrifted swimsuits. And I have actually had a fairly good experience so far with these little buddies:

This *amazing* swimsuit I bought from an etsy shop called Venderstore for about $50, so that really isn't all too bad considering the week before I accidentally stumbled into a surf shop (I was way out of my element) and the shop assistant somehow convinced me to try on a swimsuit that was $200.  I kind of just sat on the floor of the change room and had an existential crisis.

I realise I have a bit of a wedgie here. Oops.

The only thing about this beauty is that I bought a size too large, so there is some weird bunchy fabric on the front of the briefs and I've so far just tied on the top with thousands of rubber bands before I eventually beg Annika to fix it for me. If you do buy from them, I would suggest *maybe* sizing down- especially if you are in the lower end of the measurements for the size it says you are. There is quite a lot of stretch.

This one (sorry, super grainy photo) I bought from a thrift shop for about $2 and it's probably my favourite one, because it's really damn flattering and comfortable, and makes me feel nice about my bod. 

As well as sometimes draping nice cloth over my hot water bottle-body (I'm probably clutching at straws a bit here for metaphor (did I already mention how damn hot it is in Sydney)), I have done other fun things like going to rallies. Namely, I made my way down to Reclaim The Night Sydney, which was an amazing night, with some incredibly powerful speakers. We gathered, we ate food, we listened to speeches, and then we reclaimed the night, parading through the city making a deserved amount of noise. 

I'm sorry to all the guys who were held up in traffic during the protest, but usually its you holding me up from getting on with my day. I live next to a major road and I cannot walk to the bus/ to work/ to the hardware shop without you yelling out at me or beeping. I'm just trying to catch a bus dude. I'm glad you're discovered how to use the horn on your steering wheel (you press the big button) but I don't really appreciate how you over-use it. 

And all jokes aside, it is really hard to have to watch yourself like that, especially at night, like you're always on the outside of your body looking on. And it's not like you can just tell people to go away a lot of the time, because they don't like that, and start with the "HEY GIRL I'M JUST TRYING TO BE NICE" bullshit. 

I also blocked some frat boy off my Insagram recently after he took it upon himself to comment on a bunch of my pictures calling me a "fucking wookie" (nice man, inventive, can I reclaim that?). I was a bit frustrated so I posted this picture of my very hairy armpits with a bit of a fuck-off caption and it's garnered hundred of likes! So nerrr. 

With all that being said, here are some pictures of my hairy legs in cute socks I have been wearing recently.

The last three pairs are from Top Shop, and the rest I won on eBay. Socks and underwear are the only things that I have lifted my rule about second hand/ strict ethical purchasing, because it is really difficult to find reasonably priced socks made that way and I'm not very good at finding matching thrifted socks. This rule has only just been recently lifted while I have been quite poor, so we will see how I go. Top Shop are trying to be more conscious of their methods of production, so I feel like there is at least progress being made. 

Taking those socks to the beach was probably the wittiest thing I've ever done.

I also tried to dye my hair blue.

It turned green.

and then kind of (?) blue (-ey green)

and now my hair just kind of looks like when you try to put food colouring into your pancakes 'cause you think it will look cute and then all the colour kind of blends into this weird whirlpool of brown-ey red-ey green but ultimately they are fine after you whack on a bunch of maple syrup and eat them with your eyes closed.

Alright, I'm going to leave it here for today. Next blog post will be full of interesting discourse and analysis and gender theory and anthropology debates and... fashion... and it will be great I promise. Or not. At least we have caught up for now!

Leave me a comment and let me know how you've been! I love reading all your comments and am consistently blown away by how clever and interesting everyone is. I seriously get so excited when I read some of your comments about gender and feminism that I am often too panicked to write a response because I don't want to ruin the moment. But I try to reply as soon as I can!

Love to you all. :-)

Katie xxx

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Why I Believe That Being A Lady Is Actually Utterly Ridiculous

Hallo everyone!

Today I want to talk to you about bodies, movement and social hierarchies.

Say wha? Well, specifically I want to talk about how the presentation and movement of our bodies signify who we are in an individual sense, but also how our bodies signify something that is bigger than us. We are the product of our environment and our culture, and this will always be written on to our bodies in some way. Through the way we talk, the way we act, the way we walk, even the way we eat, we are constantly communicating messages about ourselves and our social roles- even if these behaviours seem unconscious! We are constantly adhering to a very rigid set of rules, that become so internalized that we don't even realize that we are doing so.
But our bodies are doing more than we think they are. They are the medium for meaning that if we were able to distance ourselves from, even briefly, has the potential to seem absolutely absurd and arbitrary. Why are we acting in these ways? Why do we attribute value to some bodily behaviours and stigmatize others?

And WHAT is so good about acting like a lady???

Let's consider some stereotypes here. This is by no means a kind of value judgement, I just want to give a very clear example of how bodies become different things in different social spaces- and also how perhaps these bodies could be responsible for creating or compromising various social spaces. So, that being said, let's think about what we consider to be the 'correct' way of using our bodies.

Speaking generally, we attribute value to a specific set of behaviours which present themselves in both unconscious and very obvious physical ways. And there is a very obvious class divide here. Consider two different restaurants: one in a 'fancy' neighbourhood, a 'classy' restaurant with a certain reputation, and one in a different area, perhaps with a lower socio-economic demographic- say a diner, or an all-you-can-eat, or the local pub.

Would you say that you are expected to use your body in different ways in different venues? How would you expect people would be acting in the fancy restaurant, compared to the diner? What body movements are different- eating, walking, talking, standing- all of the above?

What about the notion of acting "like a lady"? There is a lot of value placed on the idea of being and acting "lady-like", and it is generally regarded as being the "proper" way to exist as a woman. What effect does this have on how you are able to move your body? Can you move freely? How much space can you take up? Do you sit with your legs together? Do you stretch? Do you put your elbows on the table?

The institution of "lady-like-ness" has a wholle lotta baggage that it brings with it. If you have recognised that to act like a lady changes your body behaviour, lets extend that further and clarify what these bodily expressions mean. What are the expections of being a lady? Words that spring to mind are: refinement, eloquence, 'properness', education, restraint, control. 

You have to wonder: are we we doing everything we possibly can with our bodies?  Think back to my post Throwing Like a Girl. Are women actually inhabiting the extent to which their bodies can extend? 

Do you think our world would change if we all decided to change the way our bodies act? What would happen? 

Being a lady is about more than being a woman, it has a very clear class-based meaning. Aspiring to be a lady (generally considered the "correct" way to be) is aspiring to imitate the behaviours of a social elite. What does this do? Do "ladies" receive more oppurtunity? Are we more likely to get that job or get into that party? WHY? Isn't this stuff just... completely arbitrary? Who made the rules here?

Now I'm gonna name-drop another theorist on you, so I hope you have your socks on. Todays feat. guest= Pierre Bordieu.

Bordieu means to make it clear that the seemingly arbitrary structuring of society manifests itself in distinctive ways on the body. He talks of us “playing the game”, meaning that we are participating in an established social structure while believing illusions of subjectivity and individual autonomy within this game. Meanwhile, we do things that align with a clear social hegenomy; things that appear to us to be “reasonable”.

 We believe that we individual agents on this field, choosing to move our bodies and act in these “common-sense” ways, while our places in the game are actually the manifestation of practical social forces (like rules, expectations, class) existing externally, and governing our next play on the field. It's like a manuscript, or a blueprint that we follow, while thinking that these movements our determined by our individual thoughts and decisions.

It is a simple enough process to detach ourselves from "the game", if we choose to “suspend our commitment” at least momentarily, and render its entire existence as arbitrary and little more than absurd- but this is rarely the experience of the players of the game, and they and we will continue to create meaning through practical action and social repetition, and this meaning will be written onto the bodies of all involved. The body remembers these social processes and acts in ways (performing tasks, rituals, 'symbolic' physical actions) that will affirm these processes and continuously reproduce them.

Basically- we keep doing the same things over and over, and we think it's because we choose to, because there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to do things. But if you jump back for a second, doesn't it all seem a little silly? Who actually made this shit up? What is so "right" about being a lady? 

Dress- Vintage/ Second Hand
Bag- Thrifted
Socks- Thrifted
Shoes- Naot
Earrings- Handmade from a market

If we recognise that the things we do are actually really very silly, I think that this opens us up to being able to play with our appearance, behaviours and body movements. To have fun with it. Do something unexpected. Wear a dress and burp in someone's face. Go to a classy party in overalls and gumboots. You may as well! 

What are some things that you do that you consider "normal" that on further inspection seem totally made up? For me, the biggest realisation was that I didn't need to shave. Note that I said that I didn't need to shave. Now that I know that, I can if I want. I don't, because I don't want to, because I like having hair on my body, and because ultimately I like to just stand in the shower and sing and not have to focus on practising the yoga-esque positions required to shave the back of your legs (seriously though, props to people who do this all the time, it is seriously hard work). But if I decided I wanted baby-smooth legs, I could go right ahead and shave/wax/burn off all my hairs, safe in the knowledge that I'm not doing it because I think that it is a necessary part of my hygiene, but that I'm just having fun and experimenting with my body.

Hope you are all having a great week! Feel free to comment below; I read every one and try to reply as often as I can.

All my love,

Katie xxx

ps. click here to read a wiki about Bordieu and "the field"!

Monday, 3 November 2014

A Babin' Buddle Birthday


So it has been over a month since I've posted, and I have really really wanted to do a post and even have a few in the works but this has been one full on month. Between finishing off university for the year, changing jobs and chest infections I have hardly had the time to change my socks or wash my hair let alone write up a blog post or like, brush my teeth.

On the upside, I managed to pull myself together for long enough to have a 21st birthday party! And why not return to the blogging world to celebrate, and to share with you guys some of my favourite snaps from the night. No gender theory or poetry or anthropology here, just a bunch of feminists partying down.

Party Party.

Here are two wonderful feminist friends having a wonderful feminist moment. They laughed, they cried, they accepted that gender and sex are fluid concepts and that intersectional feminism is where it's at.

This beautiful woman right here is my mother, Joanne. She is the strongest and kindest person I know, and I believe a lot of my feminism was born out of being raised on a hard diet of Tori Amos. Thank you Mama Bear, for letting me play Blood Roses during pass the parcel when I was 5 (to the shock horror of most parents), for encouraging me to be creative and think critically, for spending hours upon hours brushing my hair and for being there for me through some of the best and the hardest times of my life so far. You are my best friend and inspiration.

This is Annika taking responsibility as one of the more sobre guests at my party and lighting the candles on my cake without setting my hair on fire.

This is me not setting my hair on fire. Yay!

At some point in the night I found glitter, and decided that I needed to, turning me into a pixie dream girl (but not the ever-dreaded anti-feminist trope Manic Pixie Dream Girl!

Annika opted for a more controlled (sobre) valfre-style approach to glitter:

There was so much glitter on me that I was basically glowing in the dark. At some point in the night I also changed into my new mystical witchy dress made for me by the beautiful Manaka from Manaka Handmade.

I didn't really get many flattering photos of me wearing it though, mainly ones where I look either really frightened or I don't even know what I'm doing in the picture below. These are two of my bestest buds, Elsher and Rosie. Rosie baked up a storm for my party, and Elsher spent hours upon hours (upon months?) putting together the most beautiful and hilarious and best collaborative video of all of my friends and family dancing along and being ridiculous. These two wonderful women have their eyes on starting an exciting baking blog in the future, so stay tuned for exciting news on that front!

Reaaaaaallly don't know what I'm doing with my face.

Last but definitely not least, here is the (super) man responsible for taking all these pictures! His name is William, and he has been one of my best friends since I was about 12. And yeah, he's a feminist too.

So that about does it! I had a super great time and feel a little wiser now that I'm older. 
That is entirely a lie; I still didn't have the wisdom to call in sick to work the next morning, and turned up late, hungover and covered (like, covered) in glitter. But knowing that when I clocked off I was returning to piles of party debris and a house full of my best friends to help me clean it up made my day a lot brighter.

Cue cheesy music? Ew ew ew.

Love to you all!

Katie xxx