Bottoms up

It’s been a long time since I wore a bikini. They’re not the most practical of ensembles on a beach (too much sand, and it’s impolite to readjust one’s wedgie in front of a viewing audience) and so I usually stick to a solid one-piece, better for diving and lazing and all manner of things you’d usually do on a sunny shore. But this year, I’m heading to the scorching hot, white-and-blue terraced steppes of the Greek islands, and decided I wanted to go all out. I eat right, I pay my taxes, I ain’t never shot a man in Reno, so I’m pretty sure I get to wear a bikini in climates where it’s so hot you can’t tell where your face ends and the sun begins, even if I’m not of Taylor Swiftian proportions.

If you’re not a woman over size 10 (or about a 38 or for the Europeans), it can be hard to understand the constant see-saw of thoughts that are set in motion when you begin to contemplate showing flesh in public. I’m not an unconfident person; I can attend a party solo, have commandeered the odd set of decks in order to do an interpretive dance to Fleetwood Mac, and I don’t have any huge hang-ups about my arse, but I still can’t shake that niggling feeling of not being sample size when it comes to outdoor outings. Today, to take advantage of sale season, I started looking for some bits of string to cover up the essentials on holiday and found the following pictures:

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This is not a post about skinny shaming. It is not a post slagging off women who have prominent hip bones or thigh gaps or six-packs. All women are beautiful, unless they’re total arseholes, in which case they’re not that beautiful, but on a plainly aesthetic level all women are equal. What made me feel so unsettled was that when I saw a woman who was “normal” after all the hundreds of airbrushed, thigh-gapped women, I felt a shock and it made me feel so awful to think that somehow in that brief period of searching for something and finding only objectified perfection, I had lost a sense of diversity and reality in the presentation of the female body. When I saw these bodies, that represent most bodies and most definitely fall into the representation of my body, I felt, well, a little unnerved. Should they be showing that? What will people think if I go on a beach looking like that? Shouldn’t they – and I – cover up a bit more?

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I’m a 5′ 10″, size 14, and the sight of a woman in the same realm as me made me immediately feel like I should wrap a sarong around me and duck under the nearest sun lounger. What a crock of shit our concept of fashion campaigns is. This post is only about basic photography, it doesn’t even cover the much murkier depths of higher level advertising, where extreme thinness and unreality are the norm, but I just felt I had to post something for my pals and others who might feel the same way.

We have wobbly bits, several wobbly bits, despite exercise and healthy eating and all the things we’re “supposed” to do, and I’m fully reclaiming all those wobbly bits now. I’m sticking a little flag in them, I’m the Neil Armstrong of my very own Lunar landscape and I’m going to appreciate how fucking flawless those women look in their Curve or Plus-size or whatever other euphemistically named bikinis they’re wearing, and feel fucking thrilled that I have a body that can take me to a beach, that can dive me under the water and bring me back to the surface and roll around in warm sand like the Little fucking Mermaid when she gets her legs, although that wasn’t entirely a picnic for poor Ariel either, let’s be fair.

I hate that it made me second-guess myself, but I love that I went ahead and bought 4 of the things anyway. Thighs: Prepare yourselves. Ass: Your day is nigh. Stomach: Your tour of duty approaches. We’re off to see the world, and a grand old time we’ll have too.

A Tale of Trams and Mickies

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In all my dreams of swashbuckling overseas adventures, I never imagined a day when I’d have to invoke my newly acquired language skills to describe a hideously uncomfortable close encounter with a public masturbator on a tram. And that’s a sentence that I never thought I’d write. What a lovely day of firsts.

The tone of this post is an odd one for me to balance well. The point I want to make is threefold:
1) Somebody exposing their genitalia to you and masturbating on public transport is not ok. It is illegal and disgusting and fucked up.
2) This, however, does not mean that there are not parts of this story that were extremely funny and full of suppressed giggles because taking your mickey out and having a tug on a tram is also so preposterous that it just creates an air of surreal comedy.
3) No assault of any kind is every too small to be reported. People cannot get away with shit like that. Even if it’s only you shouting it at the universe and your pals after 5 wines, then shout away. But preferably tell a cop or a responsible adult.

I  think that people who know me, know me as a strong woman, possibly falling slightly on the side of overbearing asshole when I think i’m correct and also as being outspoken on rights issues. I would be the first person (in my imagination) to tear someone to shreds for attempting to make me feel small or scared, and I imagine a lot of others would think that of me too, so I wanted to write this as some very small attempt to show that assault, no matter how minor, is a mind-twisting event. When people question why women don’t shout or fight or create a scene when something happens, even in a very public place, it’s because it’s shocking to the core. Your mind doesn’t normalize it quickly, sometimes not at all, and the first port of call is often self-protection. If I, a loud Leo of a woman, got silenced, freaked out and very fucking grossed out from having a mickey swirled in my face on public transport, imagine how hard it is to speak out in worse circumstances?
I won’t go into the details too much, because they are unnecessary and not of interest to anyone except the police, but I was coming home on a weeknight recently at around 7.30 in the evening and was plopped on my little tram seat in a half empty carriage glued to my phone. Note I say half empty, there were other people around, but sitting up ahead of me. As I was carefully studying a newly changed profile picture or some equally momentous content update, I noticed a movement to my right. I thought it was the man trying to steady himself. I am truly my mother’s daughter; we had a spate of dirty phone calls to the house one year and we realised that they kept happening because my mother thought the shallow breathing and groans were signs of distress and kept asking the fella on the other end of the phone if he needed some help.
Anyway, I glanced to my right to check on the poor lad who was having difficulty with his balance and as quick as a flash, (pun entirely intended), noticed that he was leaning comfortably, dick in hand, hips angled toward me. My first reaction was to squint to make sure it was, in fact, a mickey. I am not sure what else on God’s green earth it could have been but I wasn’t thinking straight. I then stood up like someone had lit a bonfire under me, walked firmly away from him and waited at the doors as he stared me down and continued having the time of his life. How depressing, having a wank on a tram.
That night I walked home, told a pal about it, slept, woke up the next day and increasingly felt like I should tell someone even though part of me felt stupid and childish and like it would be badly received as an overreaction. I grew up with the sense that a flasher or a public masturbator was more of a nuisance, an attention seeker and you’d do well to ignore them because it’s not “real” assault.
But what do these fuckers do when the kick wears off that? When they’ve relieved themselves into the faces of 100 women and girls who have been silenced and forced to move away while they continue to hold power? Do they get bolder and braver and move on to other things? Are they abusers? Would they do that in front of a child?
It sounds apologetic and awful to admit it, but when I finally got the courage up to call the Amsterdam Transport Authority the next day and make a report, I had a list of reasons ready about why I was calling to report it: “I’m concerned he might go on to bigger offenses, I’m afraid he might do it to children.” But the truth is, it was enough for him to do that to me, to take away my feeling of safety and autonomy. And thankfully, the Transport Authority agreed with me and could not have been more helpful.
The most difficult thing about explaining the incident to a non-native English speaker is that I couldn’t resort to any euphemisms or slang words. It was wall-to-wall penis and other straightforwardness. The customer service person and I had a lovely awkward giggle about our agreed terminology before she talked me through the whole incident, reassured me they were fully supportive and were very concerned about similar reported incidents and urged me to contact the police. This also felt difficult at first, but it was a 20-minute interview with a very lovely policeman who then had his female colleague call me first thing the next morning to assure me that they were making sure that they were finding out everything they could about the incident and the man involved.
And even if nothing comes of the investigations? What happened as a reaction is enough for me. Having people listen and be kind and take note and not question why you didn’t just laugh it off and move on is a good feeling after I’d been made to feel so unsteady on my feet for a bit. If it was your sister or daughter or Mum or friend, you’d want them to be able to say it out loud too. That man took advantage of a woman alone, and I’m sure has done it to many other women and girls and I did the only thing I could do with it, which was to put it out into the universe to make sure that it’s recorded somewhere, no matter how hidden away that record is.
If something makes you feel uncomfortable and gross and it’s also actually illegal, no matter how much people try and say it’s only a “minor” thing, follow your gut and report it. Speak up. Speak up for women who can’t. Talking about it lessens the stigma and turns it into a less acceptable behaviour, even if those talks are just with your pals or family or partner.
I’m back braving the tram again, albeit making sure that I sit in slightly busier compartments, and I might add “Learning the Dutch word for ‘mickey'” to my 2015 to-do-list, but I’m very much ok. I just wasn’t for a few hours, and when I reached out, even though it felt weird and tough and silly for what felt like a relatively small issue, there was a support network that I never knew was there, and that’s a very lovely thing to learn. #keepyourmickeyinyourpants

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11 Headlines That Perfectly Illustrate How Much The Daily Mail Hates Women. Haaates Them. Eww. Christ. Imagine Being A Woman. Ugh.

Every day I do something horrible, reprehensible, disgusting and demeaning. I check the Daily Mail website. I tell myself that it’s because they have faster updates on news than any other website, even though their take on said news is usually preposterously skewed, but there are many sad, shitty nights where I’ve sat and browsed the beautifully named “Femail” section of the site, which mainly consists of women vilely slagging off other women and CAPS LOCK HEADLINES ABOUT CELLULITE. I ain’t doing it anymore. No morbid fascination for stunningly vapid journalism will drag me there. The following 11 headlines will be my strength and my shield. The Daily Mail hates many people, but these are just some of the ways in which it has shown that it really fucking hates women.

1)

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The time they made a hilarious comparison between a sex offender and a dude from Anchorman. It’s really a stunning feat as a journalist to receive information that a man has committed a sexual offence and to have “Fuck me, that guy is the IMAGE of that fella from Anchorman!” as your first reaction and then actually turn it into your story angle.

2)

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The time they warned you about your tricksy periodses. Don’t worry though love, you’re just out of your fucking mind on PMS and nothing’s actually happening at all. That’s the good news.

3)

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The time they said that maybe your periodses weren’t so tricksy after all, and that you shouldn’t dare ask your boss for anything without consulting your “menstrual diary”. I love my menstrual diary. It’s made from the womb lining I shed every month and is decorated with pubic hair.

4)

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The time they completely changed their fucking mind again. Obviously this was written by a woman off her face on her period.

5)

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The time they announced that women are manipulative, bleeding liars.

6)

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The time they told you that in order to be admirably thin, you should wear a suit that makes you “clench your entire body while waiting for the pain to subside.”

7)

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The time that their “EXCLUSIVE” story revealed the shocking fact that fat people are capable of having a good ride despite their hideous fleshiness getting in the way.

8)

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The time that the headline was missing a word and yet still managed to be completely fucking condescending. Also, I love that they used a banana muffin as the control.

9) 

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BECAUSE YOU FUCKING BULLY US INTO MADNESS ON OCCASION.

10) 

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LOL.

11)

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The time that they said that big jobs were too much for our little fanny brains to cope with and that with great power comes a higher risk of dementia.

And with that, i’m out. I love the world and its womanliness too much to be contributing clicks to articles like this that just beget even worse pieces of shit.

Old Shit Revisited: A Poor Assessment of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum Inspired By Awful Women’s Magazines And With Particular Reference To ’90s Pop Pioneers TLC

I’ve just arrived back from visiting the magnificent city of Istanbul and while there, I tried to figure out how my personally treasured but rather pedestrian photos could be made interesting to a public of some sort. Most shots were binned, but the entire time I was walking around the Archaeological Museum I had the bitchy voice of a Cosmopolitan writer in my head, criticizing the fashion choices of the women and men of the Greek, Roman and various other empires. I say men and women but I clearly mean women because Cosmopolitan hates us just slightly more than we’re even supposed to hate ourselves, according to them. Roll up your leg hair, suck in that gut and welcome to a women’s magazine’s take on some old shit (liberally dotted with references to ’90s girl band TLC).

Coronation Street called and it wants its wig back. Girl, that hair is doing you zero favours. You’ve sent us letters in your thousands about your desperation at finding a man. This hair is why you’re at home on your own eating cheese slices straight out of the packet. Careful of that cellulite…

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I said fix your fucking hair.

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These stunners are straight-up TLC: Crazy, sexy and oh-so cool. Pink mantel? Check! Draped layers? Check! But where are their men? Probably out catching food for the whole gang for a cosy fireside picnic. #paleo

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This deconstructed man just screams modern art genie Damian Hirst: Bold and brave. But there’s also a stunning fragility about his floating limbs as they’d lift you up and away from the sorrow of debating exactly how long your pubic hair should be to remain acceptable. Throw that rock away mister and wrap those guns around me any time!

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Folds of luscious fabrics here to cover those sinful days when you forgot to shave! There’s no excuse girls so make sure next time you’ve got those legs ready to rock that mini-skirt. Shave or be single; the decision is yours…

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A little extra room around the waist on this one for gassy, bloated menstrual days. Just make sure you clog it all up with expensive feminine hygiene products, then take all the painkillers God has graced the earth with and turn that frown upside down. Nobody gives a shit about your body being a wondrous reproductive machine, they just get grossed out by your blood and back pain so sort it out dummy!

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We all know this one, am I right? You wake up on a Saturday morning after Friday drinks at the new job and all of a sudden: “Dude, where’s my arm?!” Don’t fret, your boss will more than likely respond to mild flirting and even suggestions of inappropriate behaviour so go right ahead and use those feminine wiles. #noshameinbeingawoman

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Double denim? What WERE you thinking? Or is that a slashed denim jumpsuit… Whatever, you shouldn’t be fussy. He’s a man and he might want you so get those glad rags on and shimmy on over.

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Stop the lights and call the Mayor, we have a winner! Cross body elegance from our headless friend shows you never have an excuse for saggy boobs. Had children? Who cares?! Get those girls pointing to the North Pole with this genius wrap. Also, has somebody asked Diane Von Furstenburg where she got her inspiration from? Seems suspicious to me… #notcallingyoualiar

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Hand on hip: Ladies, he’s not afraid of his feelings. What a total #joy.

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Partridge penis and bull saliva are the only things you need to give your man a VERY happy Christmas! #tesco

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And finally ladies, the dream. Your robed man, handing you a declaration of his love despite your hairy, covered-up legs. Note the midriff action (can we all thank TLC one more time?).

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Apologies for my arse. Not.

A funny thing happened today. A Greek businessman called Demetri Marchessini decide to pay the Telegraph to publish a letter of his that accused journalist Libby Purves of being “pro-gay”. Well done Libby is all I can say as an introduction to this piece. The fact that you have pissed this nutter off is a wonderful sign of your writing abilities. More info on Marchessini’s letter can be found here: http://bit.ly/1cpgzgl

For now, I’d like to examine a publication produced by the author of this letter, entitled Women In Trousers: A Rear View, which tells us all how our arses are a nightmare to deal with and that we should all really reconsider our current fashion status quo and maybe just wear a sexy skirt from now on. To save you the bother of having to read this pile of shit, I’ve captured some of the best moments for you.

The introduction: Have you seen the state of your arse when backing away from a mirror, lady?

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Fuck, am I a Haute Lesbienne? Jesus Christ, I’d only ever heard of “lesbians”, what happens when you add “haute” to that? Do I go to extra-bad hell?

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Ok, I have a huge arse cos I have kids I need to pop out. That sorts everything.

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And yes, even my non-perfect legs need showing off so I can find a man-mate.

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Hmm, and it is my femininity that attracts men. Ok. Not my two degrees and ability to speak 4 languages? Ok, got it.

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Have you seen the STATE of yourself? Pull yourself together woman!

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Here is the author, so you can see how perfect he is and aspire to that.

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