International Girls Day

Today, I woke up and scrolled through all of my social media pages, as I do every morning. In doing so, I clicked on Facebook which informed me that today marks International Girls Day. Having sparked my interest, I decided to do a little research into this day and what it accounts for.

International Girls Day has run since 2012 and “aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights”. 

Women, as a whole, face grave unequal treatment worldwide, and studying Gender and the Commonwealth Caribbean as well as International Human Rights Law whilst moving to Jamaica has lead to my own interest in the subject. It’s partially upsetting, that coming from the UK, I was so unaware of the unequal treatment towards women going on in the world today, in 2017. Of course, in the UK there are huge inequalities that still exist between men and women, but for the most part, we are better off than in many other countries around the world.  We can thank the feminist movements for many changes in Britain today, such as the right to vote for women, as well as the passing of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

International Girls Day seeks to advocate for the rights of girls globally. We also have a day for Women specifically, as well as a day for Children, but October 11th is set aside to advocate for some of the unequal treatment that girls face internationally.

Since beginning my studies on the topic, I’ve read many articles pertaining to the awful things some girls have to suffer, including Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage at a young age. Gender based violence is something that exists in a number of places and “Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence“.

As well as this, young girls globally are taught to be seen and not heard, to act “ladylike”, to look pretty and to stick to “feminine” jobs such as cooking and cleaning. They can be excluded from jobs that are seen to be masculine, and are ridiculed for wanting to partake in male-dominated activities.

Of course, many of these things that happen are due to cultural differences, but the problem begins when the girl is not given a choice to take part in these activities. Girls are humans too, and are therefore entitled to their human rights. They are entitled to choose what happens to their bodies, to what career path they want to take, to decide if they want to get married or not. They are entitled to protection from violence and they are entitled to feel as free to make these decisions as any male.

The fight for equal treatment of girls internationally is an ongoing fight that occurs in every corner of the world. Change cannot be made until more people are aware of the unfair treatment that happens, and this is what this post seeks to do. I am seeking to spark your interests in the unequal treatment of girls. This blog is a mere insight into some of the disadvantages that girls are at worldwide, but it is up to you to go and research for yourself the heinous inequalities that exist, in order to help advocate for change.

This blog is my way of helping; it is here to spread the word and therefore make it more known that the patriarchal system is still alive and well and this cannot continue. Whether any of us will be around to see the change that needs to happen is unlikely, but we can help make change that our future children/their children could benefit from. We can be a part of making the world a better place for girls to grow up in.

In the words of Michelle Obama, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish”.

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The Upside to Social media

Is it just me, or is every connotation you see these days regarding social media, a negative one? It seems every Tom, Dick and Harry is creating a film on social media GONE WRONG. We’re taught to be scared of putting ourselves out there on the internet. We’re told it’s weird that we want others to know what we’re doing and who we’re with.

I’m personally sick of the negatives. It’s understandable that when using social media platforms such as twitter and Instagram, we have to be sensible but come on. It doesn’t take a genius not to write your full address including post code and phone number on your twitter account.

In terms of what I’m about to talk about, I’m not referring to children using social media. There are obvious rules and restrictions that should be regarded when kids are using the internet for safety reasons, of course. But I’m a 21 years old and I’m sick of seeing social media positioned in a bad light.

What many people fail to realise is that social media is the now and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. You either get to grips with it or you fall out of touch. It’s the era we live in and we should embrace it and use it for good!

There are so many positives to social media platforms. Seeing my friends using twitter, Instagram, snapchat and more to promote doing the things they love legitimately fills me with pride! These are the people using their initiative. They’re climbing their way to the top without having to grab onto anyone else to help them along their journey. They’re grasping what they have around them and using it to their advantage and it works.

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that knows me that I am a huge fan of social media, owning a twitter, Instagram, wordpress(lol) and YouTube account (but to name a few). I love using these channels to further my interest in my hobbies. It’s a way of networking with other people who love the same things I love, what could possibly be bad about that?

Not only this, but blogging is the new trend and a great way of getting people to talk about contentious issues. As the world around us (hopefully) begins to liberalise, we’re aiding the discussions that need to happen in order to promote this liberalisation. The more I see posts about things that before the realm of social media, people would feel awkward talking about, the more I want to research and blog about them myself. Using  myself as an example, death is an issue many people avoid talking about openly. I used my platform to try and make this something that can be spoken about more openly. There’s something comforting in being able to read a strangers words and know that they want to help you in issues you want to discuss but feel awkward raising and blogging helps dramatically in this field.

People use social media to promote exciting experiences, talents and events. They use it to help others, to provide opinions and healthy debate. They use it to connect with others and forward their careers. These are all positives that social media platforms help with.

There will always be negatives when things like twitter is used in the wrong ways, but that is down to the irresponsible people using it in those ways. We need to be aware that social media used badly can have a negative impact, but don’t degrade it because of these few issues when there are so many ways social media can be used for good.

I hope more people start blogging, vlogging and promoting themselves. Social media is something great andd we’re lucky we have such an inexhaustible tool literally and the tip of our fingers.

Acknowledgements of a couple friends smashing the social media world: shout out to Liv Woodhead helping the rest of us gym lovers with her fitness Instagram account @livjade_fit and a group of very talented boys, Rak-Su who have jut released their Dive Ep, which you can find on Spotify and iTunes. You guys inspired this blog, keep doing you x

Starting a make-up YouTube channel and more.

If you know me, you know I’m a very confident, outspoken, loud and ambitious person.

If you know the real me, you know I have insecurities like anyone else. I’m slightly introverted and enjoy just staying in bed all weekend with tons of fast food and only myself for company.

But what most people know about me is how much I love doing my make-up.

So how does someone like me combine all of those things? Obviously, I created a make-up YouTube channel.

I spend a lot of my time doing my make up and thinking of new looks I can create with the make-up I already own. My friends enjoy me painting their faces and trying different looks on them too (which, might I add, is extremely difficult when you’re not professionally trained – everyone has a different face shape, different coloured undertones, different eye shapes etc).

I enjoy make-up and I wanted to share with everyone just how much. I don’t expect to become a huge YouTube star, and I don’t care massively how many views I get. I just wanted to share my passion with other people that enjoy make up as much as I do, to inspire others and inspire myself.

But one thing has always held me back from creating a YouTube channel – my skin. Since I was a teenager, I’ve suffered from bad skin. When I was growing up, I had bad skin, and as an unknowing, naive, young girl I made it worse by not cleaning it every night and picking at it. Instead of cleaning it, I covered it in make-up. Not even good make up; awful make up that definitely was not good for my pores. Not only that, but I stupidly got a fringe cut in the hope that it would hide some of the unsightly skin I was so desperate to not have.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to take care of my skin. I wash it morning and evening, I know my skin type and buy products that work for me, I tried every medical option and I let it breath when I can. But the damage was done and I’m left with scars on my face from my teenage days.

Not only this, but sadly I suffer from a condition which I don’t think is talked about enough. I suffer from something called rosacea; it’s basically a medical term for a really red face (lol). It sounds stupid but it’s something I’ve ALWAYS been insecure about and it’s stopped me doing many things – swimming, sleepovers, anything that meant I had to go bare faced.

Recently however, I’ve been on antibiotics to try and clear the rosacea, or at least to try and calm it down. It still flares up and I’m still aware of the pink undertones in my face, but on the whole, lets just say it’s much better than it used to be.

Now though, I don’t think it matters massively how good/bad my skin is doing – i’ll always be able to notice my flaws more than others. But we all do.

I made the decision to bite the bullet and start a make-up YouTube channel despite this. I put my bare face out there on the internet when I can’t even leave the house to go to the shops without make up on. This has been a huge step for me and my confidence and I’m slowly learning, that those that care about me don’t care if I have a pink face or a spot in the middle of my cheek. They like me because I am that confident, outspoken, loud and ambitious person.

I’m going to continue making make-up tutorials. I’m going to continue putting my bare face on camera and I’m going to continue learning that I am more than my skin.

I still wake up and look in the mirror before I do anything else, in the hope that today is a calm skin day. But I wake up now, see a flare up, and laugh at myself for caring so much.

The point of todays blog it to recognise that we all have insecurities that we are embarrassed about, but we don’t need them to control our lives. We should continue to live the way we choose to, and not let our flaws or imperfections stop us from doing so.

Oh and by the way, if you wanna take a look at the two videos I’ve created, follow this link 😉

 

New Year Resolutions

As we enter the new year, it is a given that we will all become surrounded by others enquiring what our new years resolutions will be. We will be bombarded with the usual, “Oh, I’m cutting down on how much chocolate I eat” and “I’m going to start exercising regularly”. If we’re lucky, we might get a slightly more obscure resolution like picking up a new bizarre hobby in the hope to become more interesting. But I can’t help wondering how much better a place to live this world would be if everyone chose a new years resolution that wasn’t for their own benefit.

Everywhere I look, there are complaints about how awful 2016 was as a year. Looking back, it feels like the negatives massively outweighed the positives. Just a few of the awful things that came out of 2016 include:

  • The Syrian crisis
  • Multiple terrorism attacks across the world
  • The refugee crisis

Obviously, the list is much, much longer than this, but the point of this post isn’t to remind everyone of what sad things happened, it’s to recognise that lots of sad things did happen, and we need to achknowledge that. Following these complaints, are pleas that 2017 will be a better year for all, and that it won’t fall quite like 2016 did. No one wants 2017 to decline the way 2016 did, and, I’d like to think that everyone wants the new year to be better for the world and not just themselves.

So, this leads me to the question: why don’t we all make a new years resolution that would help the world, and not just ourselves. It’s easy to say that you’re going to start treating your body better but it’s even better to say you’re going to start treating OTHERS better.

2016 made me realise that if everyone did one small thing to help, the world could become a better place for us all. The point of this blog is to inspire others to lend a helping hand to the world outside our own personal bubbles.

I am making the conscious decision to put my words into action this year. I’m sick of merely tweeting about my condolences when devastating news hits the world. I want to get involved in helping. I want to join the marches to support the innocent people of Aleppo that are constantly being bombarded with bombs on their homes. I want to raise money for charities that send aid to refugee centres. I want to show support to those affected by countless terrorism attacks on a larger platform than my twitter account. And I want more people to make these choices with me. If this blog results in only one other person making the conscious decision to put words into actions, then I will have achieved my new years resolution.

Making a change to the world doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. But if everyone made the choice to help in one small way, 2017 will be a great year for us all.

How to help a friend who has lost a parent, by someone with first hand experience

I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time. After my Mum passed away, it took me a long time to adjust to life without her, and if it weren’t for my friends and family around me, I don’t think I’d have coped as well as I have. Unfortunately, so many others lose parents, and as the friend of someone who lost a parent, it can be extremely difficult to find the right words to help comfort them. I’ve decided to write a post about my own experiences to hopefully give some insight and possibly some advice on how to comfort a grieving friend. Everyone’s experiences are completely different, and what I experienced may be the opposite to what someone else went through. But I hope to shed some light on the life of a person who lost her parent at a young age, and what was going on inside my head, while I blocked the rest of the world out.

My Experience

I don’t think it would be right to try and tell you how I wanted to be helped without first telling you the exact experience I had, and so, this was what my family went through…

On April 6th 2015, my best friend, my Mum, lost her battle with cancer. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years previously, and soon after went into remission, but unfortunately, was diagnosed with a brain tumour a while later. At the same time, I was just finishing sixth form and had been accepted into University, and as a young 18 year old, I found it hard to process what was actually going on. In my head, I just assumed that my Mum would eventually get better, and life would go back to normal. In hindsight I think this was my way of coping with what had happened. I went off to uni in September 2014, and tried to get stuck into the year. This was extremely difficult considering what was going on at home, and I frequently came home at weekends to visit my family. It wasn’t until the new year that reality finally hit me. I was on the way into uni when I received some news from my Dad. My Mum’s cancer was terminal, and she was given a few months left to live. Shortly after this, I stopped attending uni and came home to spend as much time with my Mum as possible. She was moved to live in a Hospice, where she was cared for 24/7, and I spent every last day by her side.

On the morning of the 6th, I heard the news. Having to tell his three children that their Mum had just passed away must have been the most heart breaking situation my Dad has ever and will ever be in. No one should have to do what my Dad did.

As I said, each loss is different. I knew my Mum was ill, and I watched her slip away from me as her cancer took over. For others, their loss may have been completely unexpected and out of the blue in a freak accident. But the one thing all of us have in common, is that we lost one of the most important people in our lives. How do you cope with that?

Coping

After the initial shock, I chose to keep myself to myself for a while. I stayed at home and grieved in my own way. I pulled myself together long enough to let family and friends know that my Mum’s battle had been lost and then left my phone in my room while I grieved with my family. Eventually, I stepped up and took on my role as the eldest sibling to help my Dad, and make sure he realised he wasn’t alone in this.

As the saying goes, “you never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only option”. I don’t know who said this, but I can’t emphasise how relatable this quote is. been strong wasn’t a choice, it was just something I knew I had to do. What happened over the next few months is so hazy to me now. I kept myself busy, surrounded myself with my loved ones and kept my head up, the way my Mum would have wanted me to.

During this time (and actually ever since), my Dad was my hero. He never put himself first and would constantly check to see how my siblings and I were coping. I have never admired anyone more. He lost the love of his life, and he put others before himself. I know some people might read this and think, well ,what do you expect? We’re his children and I get that. But if I ever find someone who loves me even half the amount my Dad loved my Mum, I would consider myself the luckiest woman in the world. I think it was this strength that I saw in my Dad, that helped me more than anything during this time, and maybe that’s why I put on such a brave face. I was praying my family would somehow be ok.

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The advice to other family members

Losing my Mum reminded me how important family is. To mention yet another cliche (sorry!), you don’t truly know what you have until it’s gone. I miss my Mum every single second of each day, but my family are my support system that hold me up.

As a family member, I think it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone in this. Your family can be the strongest support system despite what they’re going through. When you have no other choice than to get up and be as emotionally strong as you possibly can, I promise you, your strength will surprise you, especially when it involves caring for your family.

Feeling isolated is very easy, but what I kept reminding myself was that, although I lost my Mum, and my own special relationship with her, so did my brother and my sister. My Dad lost his wife. My Nan lost her only child. I wasn’t alone. The grief I felt and still do feel is felt by every member of my family, and it should be spoken about – it shouldn’t be held in and kept to yourself. I personally am a very private person when it comes to my emotions. I refused to talk about how I felt no matter how much anyone probed me, but everyone is different. Some people release their grief through anger, others cry for days on end. But in the end it doesn’t matter, because your family want to help you. They know more than anyone what you’re thinking and feeling and it’s important to let them in. I look back now and wish I’d spoken about how I felt more. I still don’t like talking about how I feel, but I’m learning. Just letting the words that are drowning you inside fall out of you mouth can sometimes be the most liberating feeling. A problem shared is a problem halved.

The advice to friends

Let me tell you now that your friends REALLY are the family you get to choose, and if you choose wisely, you will never feel alone. Not one of my friends stepped back and made me feel alone – they all stepped up to the mark and made sure I always had someone there for me. (Personal message – thank you guys so much, you know who you are).

As a friend of someone who has lost their parent (or anyone for that matter), finding the right words of comfort is very difficult. There aren’t really any words that can make them feel better, but there are words that can remind them that they are loved and looked after.

Reassurance is probably the most important thing a friend can do. Constantly reassure your friend that they aren’t alone, and that when they need you, you’ll be waiting for them with a shoulder to cry on. My friends, once I told them the news, each sent me their own personal condolences. My Mum was an amazing woman, and it makes me happy to remember the relationship she had with some of my friends. She would welcome anyone into her home as if it was their own, and I think, on some level, the loss I felt, although no where near as big, was also felt by most of my friends. After this, they gave me my time and left me to my family. This isn’t something you should feel obliged to do, but looking back I actually really appreciated the space they gave me. It made me feel like I had my time to myself, and even though they weren’t constantly messaging me to ask if I was ok, I knew they were there when I wanted to talk because they had each reassured me. I needed that time for myself and they respected that.

One thing my friends did for me was possibly one of the best and most loving things they could have done. They created a book of images of me, them, my Mum and I, and a few personal messages. Such a small gift has gone such a long way. Now, whenever I have my sad moments, and I do very often, I open that book and look back on all the memories we shared together, and my sadness quickly changes to happy reminiscing. It also reminded me that while they were giving me my space, they hadn’t forgotten about me. So keep reminding your friend of the good times. Think back to moments you remember them laughing, may that include their parent or not. Your friend will appreciate your attempt to distract them, even if it’s only for a little while.

You may think that words are just words, and they never seem enough, but words are the most valuable resource we have. Words can be used to heal, to distract, to show love, to remind, to reassure, to strengthen. It seems simple, but I didn’t know how strong I really was until my friends kept telling me how much they admired my strength. Words are everything. The sad truth is that nothing will ever be enough, and nothing will ever be the same, but the words you choose to use in this crucial time will set a framework for your friend to hold onto when they feel at their absolute lowest. Your words provide the hope they need to remember that things will get better, and they won’t always feel as lost as they do right now.

As a friend, you have to try as hard as you can to fill that void in their hearts. You have to remind them that they are loved and you know that they’re hurting, but they aren’t alone. Nothing will ever fill the empty space in my life now, but I appreciate every attempt my friends make to remind me that although I have lost so much love in my life, the love that still surrounds me is strong. The love my friends and family show me every single day, through a text, or a simple ‘I love you’, carries me.

But, do not fret if words aren’t your strong point. Actions can be just as powerful. When your friend wants to break down and cry, sometimes not saying anything at all can help. I don’t cry about my loss very much around my friends, but when/if I do, being held by one of my friends is all I want and need. The feeling of being held is one of the most reassuring actions you can take, so give out all the free hugs! Suggest going somewhere like a coffee shop, get some fresh air, or just offer to sit and be with them – anything that might take them out of their heads for a while. They need you.

Your friend might not tell you right now how much she appreciates everything you’re doing for them, but trust me they appreciate you.

Finally, a message to you

To those of you out they that may have recently lost a parent, I have a small message for you. It’s ok to hurt, it is ok to cry and it is ok to breakdown – but don’t stay there. That low feeling that you’re going through is the worst feeling someone can feel, but time is a healer, and the support system you have around you are equally as important. The hurt won’t go away, but you can try and replace it with happy memories and love. Let your friends and family in, they’re there to help you. Don’t keep it all to yourself. I know it hurts, and I know it’s not easy, but be strong – I believe in you.2319804f63f129e1f4b54e9590355919

One last thing!

Despite this blog being about what to say when your friend loses a parent, this advice can still apply for any loss. I sadly lost my Nan, my Mum’s Mum earlier this year, only one year after losing my Mum. Suddenly I had to go through all of those emotions again, but this time round, I knew that those around me were there for me more so than I knew previously. My Nan was an amazing woman, she helped raise me and my siblings, and losing her broke what was left of my heart. My bond with her was as strong as my bond with my Mum, and the loss was just as great. There are many different losses people can go through, but what remains constant is the support of you guys – the friends and family.

These are my thoughts, ideas and emotions towards an extremely difficult topic, and I understand that some people going through similar situations might completely disagree with me and that’s ok.Your thoughts and feelings are equally as important. But for those of you that are similar to me and my friends, I hope this helps you. I hope I can bring a small amount of positivity into your lives by sharing this.

Keep spreading love!x

This post is dedicated to my Mum, Nesta, and my Nan, Meeleen. May you rest in perfect peace x x x