On Friday night instead of donning garb and heading out to party, I went to the Southbank Centre to hear two feminist icons in conversation. Asking the questions: celebrated Times columnist Caitlin Moran; promoting her new book Not That Kind Of Girl, prolific polymath Lena Dunham.
Tickets reportedly sold out in 12 hours. “Even Stephen Fry couldn’t do that,” quipped the Southbank Centre’s artistic director in her intro.
Summarising Lena’s successes, Caitlin spoke of her “sheer fucking ladyballs” and her prodigious effect as a writer, actor and producer on the show Girls, which internationally made girls feel that they are normal – “I can see me!” Caitlin emphasises.
8x Emmy nominated and 2x Golden Globe winner Lena wrote her book in antidotal chapters and on Friday night she read from the chapter about her mother / selfies / nudity. Perhaps most revealingly, she explains in response to critic’s exclamation at her bravery at stripping off (she half-jokes – I bet Blake Lively doesn’t come under this questioning) “it’s not brave to do something that doesn’t scare you.”
There were a lot of nodding & smiling & clapping moments, but here are a few more of my favourite soundbites from the evening:
Caitlin asks Lena “when was the last time you were anxious?” “About 10-15min ago,” Lena replies. The Call The Midwife crew is in the audience thanks to Lena’s tweeted special request. Miranda Hart waves in a queenly manner towards the stage. “What if they don’t feel the magnitude of my gratitude?” Lena asks sincerely.
Continuing on the anxiety theme, Caitlin asks “if we were calm, would we create as much?” An oft-pondered question, Lena quotes her father in response – “Fear isn’t what keeps the plane in the air.” Her Dad said that by worrying we can’t prevent what’s challenging in life. In fact, Lena explains, the things that threw her weren’t what she would have thought to worry about at all.
On the criticism Lena received when the sum she received for her book deal was announced: There’s a moral dimension to earning so much money and entertainers are paid unfairly when you consider doctors and nurses and teachers. But being questioned for how much you earn is a feminist issue – guys don’t have to deal with this. She gets anxious “lest I be seen buying shoes I don’t deserve.” Recalling how she once saw a male celebrity who she won’t name “wasted in the airport on a golf cart” she deadpans – “that must be a fucking pleasure.”
Discussing food and appearances and women’s complicity, Lena laughingly brings up the Daily Mail article that recently came out: “The Daily Mail said I had debuted a noticeably slimmer face. I was enraged from a feminist point of view, and also like thank you. [...] Every time I’m cat-called – it’s horrible and it’s validating and that combination is super dark.”
Caitlin asks, to the audience’s delight,”is being friends with Taylor Swift as much fun as it looks?” “I want to tell you guys it’s not,” Lena pauses, “but it really is. She’s so rad. She has an amazing amount of control over her business. I can’t say enough good things about her… She smells amazing.”
Lastly, towards the end of the evening an audience member poses the question about the lack of diversity in Girls. Lena answers “there’s a lot of criticism I don’t are about (being called fat, etc.) but I do care when women say they feel excluded.” She goes on to explain how she didn’t feel capable of representing everyone’s experience. “The problem of representation in TV is people need to see themselves on television, but more women need to be in positions of power in the industry to bring their story to television.”
Caitlin then jumps in to defend Lena: “You have to look at who’s commissioning. It’s a predominantly straight, white male industry. [...] To be racist by omission? That’s a big word we use for serious things. Can you call a person who’s written something semi-autobiographical about their experiences racist?” Getting the final word, Lena says “this is a conversation we need to have and if I’m the one that has to take one for the team to start the conversation I’m all in.”
I can’t sufficiently express how much the evening got the brain juices flowing and all done with wit and poise. It’s kind of cringe to think I’m just another person in the 2000 strong audience from one event on the book tour, but what can I say – girl crush to the max.
Following Mother London’s participation in an ELLE magazine project to makeover outdated preconceptions about feminism, the creative agency has gone on to launch a provocative visual debate.
Project Bush showcases and celebrates the right to choose how we fashion our nether regions, photographed by celebrity photographer Alisa Connan. In a hypersexualised and -beautified climate, it’s refreshing to see such a stark questioning of a culture that has become the status quo. Love it or hate it, you’ve got to admit you can’t ignore 93 vaginas.
See the full display of anonymous participants (bravo) from 14-18th at Mother London, 10 Redchurch Street E1 7DD.
This is not groundbreaking and not important. I feel vacuous even saying it. But I would quite like to know where I stand in the ‘bag market’.
I am not ‘fashion’ enough for a PS1, not Kings Road enough for an Anya Hindmarch and am repelled by ubiquity so that rules out Mulberry et al. So where to turn? And all without forking out an eye-watering amount (especially as I know that all of my handbags will inevitably be filled with crumbs and pens that have lost their lids, no matter how hard I try to keep things nice).
The above snap was surreptitiously taken in Selfridges when I realised that the Sandro bag sitting on the shelf is the closest thing I’ve seen to the right bag – discreet, roomy, leather.. maybe there’s hope yet?
My Easter bank holiday weekend has been relatively dull compared to the rest of the UK’s – my Twitter stream was awash with smug families gobbling up roast dinners and taking the kids on trips / hipsters enjoying the excuse to get extra trollied in Hoxton. Having spent the previous working week with a weird strain of flu – and still feeling less than 100% – I was left to loll about the house on my own again this bank hol as both my fiance and my flatmate had to work. I am now rather bored of relaxing/resting up/daytime telly. The above picture depicts my fab Saturday night (what you can’t see is Take Me Out on in the background..). Suffice to say, I cannot wait for a dose of fun, pronto.
I feel like I’ve been slowly weaned onto real work, having gone from graduation to internships to freelancing to full-time employment. But even with that advantage I seem unable to wrap my head round one little thing: how does everyone fit everything in?
I’ve been trying to get to the gym lots this week as I have passes to use up but I can’t seem to make time for more than twice a week. In between working, cooking, cleaning, catching up with parents and friends, reading books, staying up to date with the news, reading all my magazine subscriptions, being a good Tweeter, keeping up with social media, attending events.., etc I just don’t know how other people actually manage it all, never mind building a business on the side – blogging, styling and so on, having a relationship and heaven forbid, one day having children.
I think it’s the 8 hours sleep that’s holding me back..
This time last year I was flu-y and bored, which led to much pondering on my life. I was resolute that five months after graduation it was time to really start getting known in the industry. [Although that may seem impatient to many, I should elucidate that my first internship was seven years prior to graduation.]
Well, 2011 was all I could have hoped for – and more.
Oh, and I got engaged! [See my Wedding inspirations here]
I have really worked and worked and worked – so much so that my only New Year’s Resolution this year is to stress less and have more fun! But you know what? It was all worth it, not least because I’m beginning 2012 with a very exciting new job which will no doubt bring more adventures and many a late night: I’ll be working at Fashion East with the fabulous Lulu Kennedy, who has just been awarded an MBE no less! I am so excited about 2012 and so grateful to everyone who made 2011 so fantastic! Happy New Year everyone.
I’ve already been thoroughly spoilt and there are still **days** to go until Christmas day..
The reason for this premature indulgence is ultimately due to the fact that I am starting a new job in January*. As such I’ve had to say goodbye to arguably the two best bosses a girl could ask for in the fashion industry. Although as a freelancer my time during this past year has been spread out amongst various projects like Twin, Dazed, Ligature, 1883, etc. I really owe a lot to these two women who plucked me from obscurity and helped me make a name for myself, not to mention taught me multitudinous skills and gave me a regular wage. And although my new role is quite ad hoc and flexible, it is predominantly full-time, at least until London Fashion Week’s over, meaning that as of January I will have my hands full.
So I have given over my Christmas/Thank you cards and presents – small tokens of appreciation as much as Christmas presents, not even considering for a second that I might be getting something myself. (Honestly .. I’m not just saying that to sound modest!) But it seems that I did have some presents coming my way – and what lovely gifts!
The Shirt Company Christmas card
Donna at The Shirt Company took me on for one day’s work in August 2010 and I have worked with her ever since. At times I’ve spent the majority of my week there, dealing with everything from PR and marketing to the website and budgeting – it’s been a really hands on experience. Anyway, Donna sent me over a ridiculously indulgent present which I officially received by courier just today – I will be getting the Cowgroom Maintenance treatment at the Cowshed spa in Shoreditch House. The blurb goes something like this:
“Two therapists work in synchronised movements ensuring complete pampering and relaxation. All treatments begin with the feet and an invigorating exfoliation with peppermint salt scrub. This is followed by a forehead pressure point massage and a de-stressing shoulder massage to prepare you for your chosen Cowgroom.”
I’m having the Cowgroom ‘Maintenance’ – an all-encompassing MOT for tired bods like mine! A Cowshed Facial, Eyebrow Tidy and Cowshed Manicure (or Pedicure). I literally cannot wait!
Then yesterday I did my last day’s work with Sasha at LibertyLondonGirl.com, who clearly needs no introduction with her 40,000 odd Twitter followers and winning of awards. I was frantically beavering away not only trying to get all Sasha’s receipts in order (so that she can complete her tax return) but also surreptitiously ordering a festive bouquet of flowers from Rebel Rebel for her. At the end of the day when I was just about ready to start packing up Sasha started murmuring about Christmas presents and before I knew it not one, but two bags were thrust in my direction..
One contained the most chic, yet somehow also eccentric (green with a pink bookmark – I love it!) notebook from Smythson of Bond Street, the elegant stationery brand whose sleek notebooks I have always coveted but never dared dream I’d be able to lay my clammy mitts on. The front cover says ‘Dreams and Thoughts’ – highly appropriate for me considering I’m always either away with the fairies pondering or making lists! I may have to get my fountain pen out to scrawl in this bad boy.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the second bag contained – and this was most definitely too much – the most beautiful faux snakeskin bag in a delicious berry hue from Angel Jackson. I am beyond delighted with it – indeed, both gifts are so me – and I think I was so overwhelmed that I felt altogether emotional as I stumbled out of Sasha’s office for the last time to walk home smiling absentmindedly like a goon.