Wednesday, March 28, 2012

having a gay old time at UL.

Since I got a much-needed exemption from Co-Op (‘work experience’ to the rest of you!), I’ve been back at UL doing some alternative modules. With most of my course-mates out of the county (and in some case, the country) on their own work placements, I expected a pretty boring few months. But I got the opposite.

Because of Out in UL, the LGBTQ society for the University of Limerick, I’ve had an amazing semester: I’ve met some wonderful friends and gone on some hilarious adventures (including a trip to Dublin to see the incomparable Alternative Miss Ireland), I’ve dressed up in drag, I’ve been to a fancy ball, I’ve laughed a lot, and I’ve started really thinking about my sexuality.

That last part in itself is pretty important: I’ve always neglected really thinking about my sexuality, because it was too difficult, too sensitive a subject. But with coming-out workshops, bi-phobia workshops, and being surrounded by people who understand what it’s like to have your sexuality labelled as a minority, it’s a lot easier for me to come to terms with who I am, or rather, that aspect of who I am.

With Leaving Cert time of year almost upon us, and nervous Sixth Years planning their college adventures, I wanted to let you all know that if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, curious, or plain indifferent, there’s a society in UL that gets it. And they are a friendly lot. And you’ll be made feel welcome.

So if you’re in UL already or you’re planning on showing up in September, give them a shout: you can find them on Facebook by clicking here, or check out the Out in UL blog. Email outinul [@] gmail.com for enquiries. :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

avon boy.

So you’ll notice from the photos in my ‘Frond’ post that my make-up looked class at the C&S Ball. I’m a bit of a dope when it comes to make-up, I won’t lie to you: that face you saw yesterday was courtesy of the devilishly handsome Niall Russell (the boy in the sharp grey suit, if you’re wondering). He’s an artist with Panstik and a wizard with a tube of liquid eyeliner. These days, if I know there’s going to be a camera around, I won’t go past Niall for my make-up. He’s basically a genius. (He’s made me look human on more than one occasion, for which he deserves serious commendation.)

Not only does Niall play the good Samaritan by helping me look normal, he also represents big-shot make-up brand Avon across the whole of Limerick. You can check out his blog at NiallAvon.wordpress.com for tips and tricks, as well as Avon updates. He does consultations, has plenty catalogues floating around, and is always up for a chat. And he is hilarious. Tell him I sent you. x

Sunday, March 25, 2012

inspiration.

 

So my friend, Eleanor, has an event coming up this week and asked me to help style her outfit for the occasion. It’s a Final Year Project thing, so a little on the formal side, but because she’s doing an artsy sort of course, there’s a lot of room for interpretation of the word ‘formal’.

I’ve spent the weekend scouring the internet for some inspiration. Since you can’t turn left these days without bumping into a few pastel shades, and a blazer just shrieks formal chic, I’m thinking a candy coloured blazer for a start. I also really like high-necked tops and blouses, so that, coupled with a skirt that is all leg, is a look I’m going for.

I also quite like the black skirt and dusty pink blazer in the first picture. Feminine but with a formal twist.

However, that’s just my personal taste and I’m open to any suggestions you might have. Leave a comment! :)

Images from Polyvore.com. Click through for individual sources.

fronds.

You know how I mentioned that pretty pictures aren’t really communicating what I want to say anymore? Well, neither are words. I want to say something and I want you to know how I feel but I’m tired and my brain is fried and I’m busy and these pictures are prettier than any words I could vomit into being right now. They were taken before the Clubs & Societies Ball last week. The ball was so much fun: I danced my little feet into stubs of bone and blood and I ate lamb and I sweated too much but I looked nice and I had a laugh and it was all kinds of lovely. Typical me, though, the next day I was overcome with a downright disgusting melancholia.

You know when you have a really good night out and you have loads of fun and you’re not that drunk and you look nice and you feel nice and everything is nice? You know the way you’re on a complete high those nights? And most of the next day? And then you come down from the high? I have that. I always have that.

Anyway, my fronds and I really did look super. Here’s the evidence:

I really love these boys. They make every college day hilarious and wonderful and I dunno what I would have done without them this semester.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

airbrushing in the fashion industry.

So I wrote this article for our college newspaper, An Focal, and it’s set to be published in the last issue of the semester. It’s far too long and probably too sentimental so it’ll be edited to within an inch of its young life. I thought I’d post it here, where it can stretch its legs without the pressure of having to sound in any way intelligent. I don’t know. I just feel really passionately about this kind of thing.

EVERY girl knows that a high resolution photo of you looking your very best is still a cause for concern. Dry patches of skin, oily pores, not-quite-white teeth – these are all things that concern every woman at one time or another (and usually it's a constant, rather than a variable, and one we have to constantly battle). So why don't our magazine models reflect this? How do they get their even skin tone and sleek hair, the like of which I can only achieve on rare occasions and for mere moments at a time?

The fashion and beauty industry would have you believe that it's a thousand different moisturisers and hair products in play but the truth is it's a tech-savvy art department with excellent Photoshop skills. Almost anyone can erase fat lines and touch up their complexion in drunken photos before they hit Facebook. For someone with an in-depth knowledge of this kind of software, creating a “perfect” person is easy.

And while we know that no one actually looks like that, low self-esteem can mean that on a subconscious level, we do subscribe to it – we do believe that we are less beautiful than the girls who grace the pages of Cosmopolitan. But we're getting fed up of the less than honest depiction of women.

Clothing giant H&M faced massive controversy at the end of last year when it was noticed by a Swedish website that their latest swimwear campaign bizarrely featured the same body in every photo. But that body wasn't even a body – it was a mannequin digitally altered to look more human. Different bikinis corresponded to different faces, but every body was a uniform slim and breasty prototype, striking the same pose. When asked to comment on the bizarre revelations, H&M said that “The message is clear: buy our clothes, not our models.”

Make-up brand, Rimmel, also faced some criticism last year after Photoshopping indie beauty Zooey Deschanel in one of their lipstick campaigns. The waxen looking finished photo hardly resembled naturally gorgeous Zooey. In an effort to achieve “perfection,” the fashion, beauty and advertising industries have reached new levels of absurdity.

In August 2010, Rolling Stone Magazine featured a sultry looking Katy Perry on the front cover. Six months later, “before” pictures were leaked on blogging platform, Tumblr. The photos showed a pre-Photoshopped Perry looking natural and vulnerable compared to the altered photo, which had adjusted Katy's tummy, thigh, hand position, and skin tone, as well as plumping up her breasts by at least a cup size. This flagrant disregard for Katy's own natural good-looks just goes to show that the industry doesn't care about portraying natural beauty, and certainly doesn't care about our self-esteem.

If you see close up un-Photoshopped pictures of 27-year-old Katy Perry, you'll notice her crow's feet and thick layer of foundation. In other words, she looks like a human being: flawed, but still beautiful. For some reason, the bosses behind fashion magazines think that we as consumers don't want to see that. It's true that some of us see fashion magazines as artwork, and we want to see its models looking like goddesses, but it's also true that it's incredibly refreshing to see our perception of beauty turned on its head.

Tumblr blog Glitter Politic certainly challenges society's ideas of beauty and gender by publishing photos of intersex men and woman (and every gender in between), dressed beautifully in their own bodies, no editing, no professional styling. While it might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's important to know that there are other options: you don't have to buy into Vogue's definition of beauty, you can create your own.
You need only do a quick scan of the fashion blogosphere or your afternoon lecture, to realise that everyone is beautiful and very, very few of them look like they'd fit in on the cover of a glossy magazine. But that's the industry's fault, not theirs.

Friday, March 23, 2012

thinking thoughts and accepting.

I’m tired but content. Things are bad but things are also good. Some things are bad and other things are good and other things are a bit of both. But right now I am in bed. I am clean-faced and fresh-breathed and comfortable. I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked you properly for being so wonderful. All of you. For being the funniest people in the world. For all the fun we have.

I’m in a really, I dunno, grateful mood lately. You know when you get that surge of happiness all of a sudden and your heart swells and, if you could express emotion in a healthy way, you might even shed a tear? I have that. I am so grateful for my wonderful friends. I am so grateful for Francis and Niall, who make every college day hilarious and brilliant.

At the moment, I have a long list of things I need to sort out: various errands I have to run; college work I have to do; stupid things I’ve been putting off for too long. I’m bad at life. I avoid it when it gets hard. I sleep too many hours and I spend more than I can afford and I don’t give anything too much thought. And it catches up on me. I don’t want that to happen again. I don’t want life to be snapping at my heels and me trying to outrun it. I don’t want to self-destruct again. So I have a list. And I aim to complete that list by tomorrow evening.

It contains silly things like putting some money on my print account, checking my bank balance, and posting a letter. There’s some more serious things as well like showing my medical cert to one of my lecturers, and going back to counselling. And then there’s you.

You’re not on my list but you should be. I am going to see you and we’re going to talk, whatever that means. I know I’m being stupid and naive, of course I am. But there’s a reason for that: I am stupid and naive. Hopeful. Lonely. I miss you. But it’s true what people say: there are plenty more fish in the sea. (Luckily they’re referring to a metaphorical sea because what with global warming, pollution, and oil spills, the numbers of fish are depleting and that is the last thing I need.)

“You can't make someone love you; all you can do is be someone who can be loved, the rest is up to the person to realise your worth.”

I like to believe that. I mean, I’ve spent far too much time trying to conceive a personality to suit whoever I fancy at any given time. And guess what? It doesn’t work. People see through it. And I don’t know what kind of person you would want me to be anyway. The point is, I can’t construct a personality. I’m just me. But I can’t help thinking that I’m crap: my natural personality wouldn’t attract anyone. Of course, this isn’t true. I’ve had boyfriends before, and I got them and I kept them by being myself. Not consciously being myself, but by just forgetting to pretend, you know?

Not everyone will like you for you, and you can try all you want to be the type of person that Hot Guy would fancy but it’s never going to be real. And how amazing will it be when you accidentally stumble across the person who likes you and fancies you and wants to be with you for you? Little old plain you who hates having to go anywhere alone, who is the messiest eater in the world, who leaves everything to the last minute. It’s going to be wonderful. And it’s going to happen.

I’m learning to accept things now, you know? I’m learning to accept myself for myself, for who I am and how I look. It’s not easy but already it feels like a hopeful and brilliant little light.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

pictures and words.

I like including pictures with my posts. I like including pictures with my ‘feelings’ posts. Of course, usually they’re not pictures. I mean, they are, but they’re pictures of words. I guess I just like knowing that someone else once felt how I feel now. And it’s funny, because I have a folder on my laptop that has almost 2,000 images collected from every corner of the Internet and not one of them adequately represents how I feel right now. This is not a bad thing – I just think it’s interesting. Lots of the pictures stored in that folder have to do with love, especially lost love. And I guess I just don’t feel that anymore. I mean, we got closure. Four years later. It’s a wonderful feeling. But it makes my pictures folder pretty redundant. Now it looks as though I’m going to have to rely on my own words to convey what I want to say.

That was from a couple of months ago. And it’s mostly still true. I used to be on a real love vibe. If you read my blog way back when I was in Sixth Year (all those two years ago), you’ll remember that I included graphics in almost every post. I stopped when I realised that they were no longer saying what I wanted to say. So I had to use my own words. And that’s difficult sometimes. Which is why I don’t post as often – there just aren’t the words. There’s thoughts and feelings, sure, but even those I try to suppress. It’s easier to keep busy and avoid thinking. It’s easier than facing my feelings, whatever they are. I try not to pay attention to how I’m feeling. Either I’m fine or I’m miserable. On miserable days, it’s hard to get out of bed, but I am trying. I am trying, believe me.

I stopped taking my medication about a month ago. I’m pretty bad with it in general – I’m sporadic at best – but a month ago, I gave up. And then a horrible thing happened in my ‘personal life’ and I knew I should go back to taking my medication. I was upset about the thing that had happened and I was the right amount of upset, but I knew that my feelings could run away with themselves and get out of control and I’d be lucky if they didn’t hit a downward spiral. And I kept telling myself, ‘I should really start taking my tablets again.’ But I didn’t. I knew I was on thin ice – I knew it was only a matter of time or misjudged footing before I fell through the ice and hit depression. Full-blown depression. But I kept going. I kept taking the risk.

Until last week when I realised that I don’t have to be this person – I can be anyone I want to be. I can be a different Emma. I don’t have to be self-destructive and miserable Emma; I can be pro-active and motivated Emma. I don’t have to risk feeling unhappy for long periods of time. I can do something about it. I can make a conscious choice to not be unhappy. Maybe some of you don’t buy into that. But what choice do I have? I have exhausted most other options. I’m not a teenager anymore – I can’t keep accepting my sadness and wallowing in it. I have to accept it and get on with it, like every other functioning adult in the world.

I believe that depression is an illness, though my psychoanalyst disagrees. It’s all very well studying depression in a classroom and having people describe it to you in therapy, but unless you’ve lived through it, you won’t understand that it feels like a disease, never mind an illness. It feels like it’s draining your every resource. It’s very difficult to be pro-active when you’re in the depths of depression. It’s very difficult to be anything when you’re in the depths of depression. But, for now, while I’m not in the depths of depression, I’m going to be pro-active and I’m going to sort my life out. When I’m depressed, I let life pass me by. I let things slide. I don’t go to college, I don’t do assignments, I don’t do all the things I know I should do. I barely shower, I don’t eat properly, and if the mood strikes me, I’ll self-harm. Because I don’t care. How can I care about anything when I don’t feel anything? Apart from a potent sense of self-loathing, of course.

I’m trying to be a better person. I go through these phases a lot. I try to better. I try to be skinnier, funnier, cleverer. But it’s not for the right reasons. It’s so people will like me. But people already like me and me being skinnier won’t gain me any extra friends. Maybe I’d get more casual sex, but I don’t want that anyway. So now I’m choosing to be better for me, so that I don’t crumble under the weight of 8,183 assignments at the end of each semester, or binge eat myself into oblivion. Or worse. I’m trying to be the person that can cope. Not just cope, but cope well. I want to be successful. And of course ‘success’ is one of those things that nobody can really define and maybe all I want is to be able to function. Maybe that’s enough right now. I’m taking my tablets most days (when my memory allows) and I’m making lists. I’m doing college work. I’m smiling. I’m try to enjoy being me.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

fear.

You know that late-night text that you send that you know you shouldn't send and that compels you to click 'send' very quickly before you can talk yourself out of sending it? I have that. I just did that. Why, I don't know. It's not as if anything good will come of it. I dunno, man. I just really fucking miss you, that's all. I shouldn't, I know I shouldn't. But you were wonderful. You were wonderful to me. Until you stopped being wonderful and became horrible. But I would still do anything for you. And that makes me the fool, of course it does. So I'm feeling all kinds of emotions right now.

I miss you because you were wonderful. I'm angry at you for what you did. I'm angry at myself for missing you in spite of what you did. And I feel awful. And I can't sleep because my brain is going a million miles an hour and there's no one here to stop it and I don't know how to stop it by myself. I never know how to stop it, how to deal with this. And that's always been the problem, hasn't it? That's what we're trying to fix. That's what we've been trying to fix for six years. But nothing's changed. How is that supposed to make me feel? Of course it's my own fault, I know that, but that doesn't make me feel any better. It's my own fault that I am this way, that I feel this way, and I am powerless to do anything about it. And that sounds defeatist but it's just my personality – I have been trying for six years to fix my life but some aspect of my personality ends up getting in the way and I make no progress at all. Do you ever feel like you're not supposed to be happy? I feel like that sometimes.

Sometimes I am trying so desperately to be happy, and other times I am happy, and then I go back to being sad again so I figure it wasn't real happiness in the first place and maybe I'm just destined to be sad or numb or something. But then I think that happiness is a fluid thing, it's not a constant. It's not even a thing, it's an ideal we make up in our minds but it doesn't exist. All we have is self-acceptance. And I definitely don't have that.

Some horrible part of me doesn't want me to succeed. There's this awful, self-sabotaging bit of me that wants to thwart everything I do. And I feel powerless to stop it. It's like I've spent my whole life not liking myself, so my brain is used to that. It's familiar, and familiar seems to equate to ‘good’. If I do something positive or productive, that will mean that I'll have to give myself credit for it, and that would imply liking myself, or at least tolerating myself. And I can't do that. So any positive thing that I do, I attribute to someone or something else: a fluke, another person's efforts, not me. And if I do admit to doing something, I won't give myself credit – I'll justify it by saying that I had to do it, it was necessary. Or I'll get angry with myself for not doing it sooner or better.

I mean, I thought I looked well at the C&S ball, but the more I analyse the photos, the more I notice how fat I am, how round-faced and how asymmetrical I am. I should be skinny but I'm not, because if I feel sad, it's easier to console myself with food than to actually deal with my emotions. And that food not only fuels my body, but also my self-loathing. It provides fodder for my hating. And I do enjoy hating myself. Well, I mean, I must. Otherwise I'd stop doing it, right? Maybe not. Maybe it's a learned behaviour. It's a habit that I can't and won't and don’t want to break. It's scary, the unknown, the possibility of actually liking myself. I'm terrified. I don't know what I'm scared of exactly, but, man, I am terrified. What if I do it wrong? What if it’s not real? What if I’m lying to myself? Worse, what if I relapse into feeling like this again and it will all have been for nothing? Again. Worse, what if I become arrogant? I mean, I’m already arrogant but it’s not real arrogance – it’s a thin veil that barely conceals my low self-esteem. Worse, what if I stop being funny? I base my sense of humour and my quips on the premise that I am a farce of a human being. If I start taking myself seriously and actually liking myself, what will I joke about?

And now I hate myself for feeling like this, I hate myself for hating myself. I’m sure there’s some sort of bittersweet irony in that but I don’t see it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

let’s talk about all this energy.

Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about inspiration. Let’s talk about the fact that everyone feels how I feel every now and then. And let’s mention I’m now moving onto the energetic stage. I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about everything I have to do, everything I need to do, everything I want to do. I want to run. I want to read. I want to go to the library. I want to look a certain way. I’m very tempted to just not sleep now.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

self-indulgent self-destruction.

Why do I base my self-esteem on whether or not boys like me? Boys are idiots. Boys like Lego and Apps, and quite a few of them don't realise how hilarious I am. I think that that makes them defunct human beings. Basically, unless you find me funny, you're defunct. Whatever.

You know what is funny, in a sick, sad, ironic kind of way? I pretend like I actually like myself. I act arrogant. I'm not really. I mean, I actively dislike myself. I think my only redeeming quality is that I sometimes say things that are sort of amusing. Apart from that, I'm not much of a person. I like drinking cider and sitting around in my underwear eating Subway. I don't have much to offer.

Rory said I should write a book about my life. Since I've moved in with him, I don't think there's been a day that's gone by without me telling him some melodramatic and self-deprecating story about whatever mishap I'd gotten into that day or the previous night. And sometimes it's funny. Sometimes I put words in the right order and they sound funny or cheeky or bizarre. For example, 'Why is he ignoring me? His pee-pee was in my va-jay-jay only hours ago!' That's a bit funny, I guess. In a tragic way.

I've had a pretty shit time of it lately and I've been taking my anger and hurt out on myself. They say there's a healthy way to deal with anger, but I'm not sure that that's true. If there is, I have yet to discover it. If someone hurts me, I'll find a way to blame myself: you can't go around punishing everyone who's ever hurt you, but it's very easy to punish yourself instead. It's easy to be self-destructive. It's hard to accept the past for what it was, and you for who you are. That takes courage, something that I gravely lack. Self-destruction is easy, but it's also very self-indulgent.

People are saying such wonderfully inspiring things to me lately and my eyes keep filling up with tears. Maybe I should start taking all this wonderful advice. But hating myself is easier. It’s horrible, it’s shit, but it’s easy. And ‘be yourself’ is good advice, but it’s far too idealistic. Because no one likes me for being myself. Except that that's not true. That doesn't even make sense. But I like to believe it because it's easier. It’s easier for me to assume that you don’t like me. That way, I won’t feel as shit about myself when you confirm it.

After a week of too much cider and not enough sleep, missed appointments and college work being put on the back-burner, I needed this weekend. Seeing my friends and my mother and talking about things, telling stories and laughing and eating properly and just being. It's been wonderful. And I feel almost rejuvenated. Last week was awful for so many reasons but I'm ready to start again, and not take life so seriously. This week will be all about doing college work and being nice to myself. And I'm looking forward to it.

Image from Flickr.