This is not a test. Unless it is, and no one told me so I haven't revised, which means I'm going to fail. Thanks for that.
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Friday, September 30, 2005

Eyebrows, why must we turn on our furry friends

‘Arch Enemy’ on what’s new pussy cat brought back terrible memories of the one time in my life I was foolish enough to mess with my eyebrows.

It must have been six or seven years ago (God that makes me feel so old) when I decided on whim that I felt the need to pluck my eyebrows, for they had been bad, bad hairy monsters for too long.

Being a complete wuss-pot, and stingy to boot, I took myself down to the local beauty college where torture was going for a song. There was no reason for this self inflicted damage, I did not have a ‘big date’, job interview, three page photo spread in Elle magazine; rather the distorted view my little blonde eye protectors were caterpillars crawling across my face. At the time I may have also been slightly brainwashed by far too many sources telling me ‘you can open up your whole face’ by plucking the crap out of it.

Anyway, off I went, coin purse in pocket for my date with beauty and sophistication at the beauty therapy suite attached to the local college (that for reasons of nostalgia I will not shame).

Now, I was not totally unprepared for the experience of pulling single hairs out of my skin, roots and all, as I had tried and failed in the comfort of my own home. However I did truly underestimate the nightmare experience I was about to endure.

I sat on the ‘bed’ waiting for my beautician (although I use that world begrudgingly, she was no beautician, more sadist). I listened to the sounds of the others cooped up in there. With an atmosphere more like a hospital ward, and curtained off areas to set it all off, I was beginning to feel a little less than comfortable. Then my ‘beautician’ appeared, she was no taller than a small pixie and must have been about 12 years old. I lay down on command.

She practiced her best ‘chit-chat’ in an attempt to reassure me; the 5’10” woman she was about to bloodily attack. I tensed at the first brush of her tweezer across my sensitive brow. I had read, never pluck from above the arch – but she did.

As our ‘appointment’ progressed I soon realised the pain I had imagined was nowhere near the reality. Each tweeze was like having my skin pulled away from my bone. Rip, rip, rip as she progressed across my brow. ‘Oh! This one’s getting a bit red now, I’ll swap and do the other side for a bit’. She moved round, not satisfied with paralysing my left side, she now wished to carry out her sadistic ritual on my right. Rip, rip rip. The pain was intense. ‘Oh dear, here, press this against your eyelid, there’s some bleeding.’

Even now the memory of this turns my stomach. What the HELL are you doing to me? I should not be BLEEDING! I lay, still, grinding my teeth, clenching my jaw. I was mad, and in pain, and I had no fucking clue what this 12 year old was doing to my face, yet the ward-like atmosphere, and my personal embarrassment at causing a scene, suppressed any desire to attack.

Finally, over an hour after we started, I was passed a mirror, gingerly. I slowly turned it to look at my reflection, knowing in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong.

The reflection staring back at me resembled a boxer more than the familiar, caterpillar faced, girl. My eyelids were bleeding, and raw and swollen. There were scratches where she had plucked my skin as well as my eyebrow. I got up, I paid, I had no idea what else to do. I left.

My eyelids had scabs on them for weeks. I have never attempted to change them again.

My experience with eyebrow modification may have been a bit extreme, but it was almost worth the pain and scabbiness as it was one of the early triggers that opened my eyes up to my now staple mantra “your having a laugh if you think I’m going to put myself through that in the name of ‘beauty’ “.

As you can see, I have fully recovered. My eyebrows are naturally thin and blonde so you can’t see them anyway – sometimes I wonder what I’m thinking!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Again with the double standards.

The media has been teeming with news on Kate Moss and cocaine this past week

After allegations she’s been caught snorting cocaine have lead to a police investigation, the loss of several big modelling contracts and investigations by social services into her fitness to care for her child I can’t help but stop and wonder why she is getting such flack, while the man on her arm, notorious junkie Pete Dougherty, makes his name from being fucked up.

Why is it he can swan around looking like he’s had the shit kicked out of him after a very long night, while allegations of drug use mean Kate’s life and career are in jeopardy?

It is because:
He’s a man
He doesn’t have ‘responsibilities’
He’s a role model (He’s famous. Look! He’s so rock and roll! He’s a junkie yet he can get a woman like that!)
It’s so rock and roll

Or because:
She’s a woman
She has a child (of course, when you drop a sprog your life should stop, dead)
She’s a role model (thinness is everything, every girl wants to be pretty!)
She should be pure and innocent (because she’s a woman, duh!)

Dougherty may not be overtly praised for his drug use, but it is what he’s most famous for. He’s responsible to himself, no matter what people may believe he is a role model to somebody, and the fact that he gets any attention at all glamorises his drug dependency.

Kate is a role model because the patriarchy needs her to be. Look girls, being thin and pretty will make you rich and popular! She is rich and successful, because she’s pretty. For all her wealth and status she’s still nicely under the control of the dominant sub culture. But no, the patriarchy’s model of girlish perfection is FLAWED! They make her, and evidently, they break her. All is right with the world.

As an aside, how can a ‘super model’ make a good role model – they’re professionally malnourished! How is that aspirational?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Christians are coming and they plan to brainwash our children!

Did anyone catch ‘No sex please we’re teenagers’ on channel 2 last night?

The show chronicles 5 months in the lives of 12 teenagers, and their 2 Christian youth leaders, trying to abstain from any sexual relations and remain celibate. Christians teaching abstinence. From the off I knew this would really get under my skin.

The Romance Academy was the name given to the group where teenagers are encourage to swap "casual sex for old-fashioned courting rituals". This is laughable. Romance has nothing to do with abstinence and vice versa. No cause and effect relationship has even been proven!

The majority of the teens were over 16, the legal age after which you can have sex in this country – so their behaviour is legal and ok in the eyes of the law, however it is important to note that it’s not ok in the eyes of the Church.

The teens seemed to have been picked very carefully. Each person who had lost their virginity described it as a negative experience and not up to the fantasy ideas they had associated with it. It was disappointing for them. This I think gave the youth workers a hook by which to catch onto the teenagers – bad previous experience, it was because you weren’t in love and you weren’t married! So you must be celibate to avoid it happening again.

Educating them before they lost their virginity about the reality of sex as opposed to the movie fairytale interpretation would have eliminated this disappointment which was largely a result of ignorance.

The 12 teenagers were repeatedly told sex before marriage was wrong, but once you were married everything was a-ok. No one tried to explain the reasoning behind this ‘rule’ beyond their personal religious beliefs. No one explained what makes everything different once you’re married. What then makes it ok? To non religious people in this modern society marriage means little more than a piece of paper and some rights to decision making and property. These teens were not religious, so why would that matter to them?

The vow of abstinence seemed to give the at least one of the female teenagers a strength to say no to sex. However I think the small amount of accompanying education that taught saying no was ok and that she had the power to make those decisions enabled that. Perhaps it was the vow told her say no, but was it not the new information behind it that told her how?

The Christian youth workers took the teenagers to America towards the end of the episode, which is where the teachings of abstinence became less about education and more about religion. The narrator commented at this point that the teens were going to be surprised at how closely abstinence and religion were intertwined in the US. I was amazed by this, they were being taught it in the UK be religious youth workers, that seems to me like they’re tied together in the UK too.

Sex is natural. It is the biological destiny of our bodies. It is (or should be) ok that teenagers want to and do have sex. Their bodies develop for that purpose when they do for a reason. Education is required to enable them to make the right choices for themselves emotionally. Abstinence as a rule takes away that choice, and also the requirement of education. Surely if/when a relationship develops into a marriage the same shock and disappointment the teenagers felt when they lost their virginity will just occur later on in life.

Next week they will be ‘offered’ the change to take part in the Silver Ring Thing a ‘cult’ promise to abstain from sex until you’re married. You wear the ring as a symbol of this promise (tacky anyone?) and on your wedding night you give your ring to your partner. Wrong for so many reasons.

Tune in to see if any of the teens have been brainwashed in to it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The sentencing of murderers - should families' experiences have an effect?

In today’s news – families of murder victims are to have their say in court. This is a new idea this is being proposed that will give families of murder victims a chance to have a say in court about how they have been affected.

The BBC quotes some critics as saying this won’t make a difference to sentences – is that really the point of it? Surely there is no measure of grief that people go through when family members or friends are murdered. Surely punishment for crimes should be based on the nature of the crime, not the reactions of people close to the victim. The murder of a person not well loved by their family, i.e. so much so that the family do not personally suffer as much as families that are very close does not make that murder any less of a crime or any less punishable.

Does this not make for a much more subjective judgement that we already have?

If this is an attempt to bring families ‘closure’ and help them play a more active part in the sentencing of prisoners then shouldn’t they be given more information about police work, or a chance to discuss sentencing options and how they would be carried out with a judges representative or something similar.

This sounds very much like another of the half baked ideas our current government is so fond of.