Last week I celebrated my birthday, entering my twenty fourth year on this planet, and thought what better way to kick things off than by listing twenty four things I love!
|Hair Colour: Coral Red by Crazy Colour, Checked Shirt: Yours Clothing|
1. My Hair
My hair is pretty rebellious- it frizzes, it kinks, it's dry and exhausted from years of finding the 'right' colour and rarely does as it's told, yet it's one of my favourite features and brings me a lot of happiness- from the bright colour in the mirror lifting my mood, to receiving many compliments on its vibrancy! On days where I feel shy and introverted, my hair does the talking for me! I get a lot of comments on my flame coloured, messy barnet and though I've returned to my natural dark brunette many times, I always find myself reaching again for the hair dye!
2 & 3. Feminism & Body Positivity
I first discovered feminism during my A-Levels- I was studying Art & Design and Media Studies and found these to be two subjects that made me ask questions, especially as both industries are frustratingly male dominated. My Media teachers were both incredible women- fiercely dedicated to their jobs while also teaching us to look deeper than the core facts we needed to pass. The English & Media department had a reputation for being 'full of feminists'- a term I was yet to understand. A story spun around about one teacher calling out men that patronisingly called her sweetheart and I found that reaction fascinating and exciting! Over the years I've learned more about feminism and today it means an awful lot to me. To know that there's a large amount of people both dissecting and confronting awful issues in the world gives me hope that things will improve. I constantly find myself feeling exhausted at the state of things- not just sexism but racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism and classism, and knowing that not everyone agrees with the injustice in the world brings at least some comfort, though I feel we can always do more.
An overlapping movement with feminism- Body Positivity- has had a hugely positive impact on my life. Over the years I've been many sizes, with a similarly yo-yoing confidence. The notion that confidence is not a specific size or shape, but a way of thinking that brings happiness, love and peace of mind, is revolutionary. You could be all kinds of sizes in your time here, but if you vow to be kind to yourself, the number on the label of your clothes will simply be a measurement of circumference and not of worth.We are all different in how we look- we all measure differently and with varying proportions-some of us have large stomachs and small breasts, or wide backs and small calves, but the members of the body positive community all share the same simple idea- that all bodies should be celebrated, appreciated and represented fairly. Loving yourself makes it easier to love those around you, which is why the body positive and feminist movements online are such a joy to be a part of!
My love affair with Lincoln began in 2010 when I applied to the city's University to study Illustration and was completely besotted when I visited on an Open Day. I remember feeling like it was the perfect place to live- it has all the qualities of a city- a good high street, a brilliant University with a great nightlife, but being a small city, it doesn't feel overwhelming or too busy. There are so many stunning sights around Lincoln, and I've spent many days exploring both Lincoln and its surrounding areas-I'm always finding things I've never spotted before! While I'd love to try life in various different cities, for now Lincolnshire is my very beloved home. If you're ever thinking of visiting, hit me up for recommendations!
5. Horror Films
Look through my 'Watch It Again' Netflix category and you'll see that I watch a lot of horror films. My love of them began during my childhood, the love of horror being passed down from my Dad. He's a huge fan of the Alien franchise, and I have no doubt that my thirst for incredible leading ladies was initiated by Sigourney Weaver's fierce Ripley. While, admittedly, many of the horror films I love don't have female leads (including The Evil Dead trilogy, Eraserhead and classic Theatre of Blood) the horror genre has always been more willing to embrace a female lead than other genres traditionally associated with a male audience (action or political dramas for example). While of course the representation of these women can be filled with problems and deep seeded slut shaming, within the past years I've enjoyed seeing more interesting and inventive female roles in scary movies (more of this topic in a future post!)
6. My Sexuality
I identify as Pansexual- for those unsure of what that means, I basically have the potential for attraction to any gender (more information here). I've felt this way since my early teens but only recently discovered the term for it, and in 2015 I came out to my family. After years of confusion, I'm so happy to be able to explain exactly how I feel attraction, and I'm proud to be a queer woman! At times it's hard not to feel that being in a relationship with a man makes my queerness less valid, but I know many don't see it this way, and I've been accepted and embraced by many! I'm also very lucky to have close-knit circle of queer friends and relatives, so I never feel isolated or alone, which isn't the case for a lot of people. I'm always looking for new groups and events to take part in, so if there's any I should be attending, let me know!
7. My Tattoos
Since my days as a teenage goth, I've adored the idea of tattoos. I got my first aged 21- a small Claddagh design on my wrist. Three years later, I have eleven- a collection of both small and larger pieces, all with great memories, but no sentimental meaning. I don't believe all tattoos have to have an intricate story behind them, in the same way that art doesn't have to have a backstory. Of course I appreciate they can act as symbolism to many, but all of mine just came from a love of the imagery and wanting pretty designs upon my skin! My tattoos have increased my confidence by no end- instead of hiding away parts of my body I felt embarrassed by, I want to show the world the art on my body! I'd like to think I'd have found self love without getting inked, but it definitely sped up my self love 'journey'. Though I congratulate those who celebrate themselves without body art, for me personally I saw it like decorating a room I love-I'm going to be spending a lot of time there, and I want the walls to be lavishly decorated! I would definitely like more and as long as I can find space, I won't be giving up any time soon!
8. Mark Kermode
As a loyal film fan, I like to keep up to date with the latest releases, but find many critics problematic. The focus of female actors' worth being based upon appearance rather than talent is a huge bugbear of mine (amongst others), however Mark Kermode's commentary of the film industry is a breath of fresh air. A huge supporter of female made films and films with female casts, he champions many films that others cast aside, and frequently calls out sexism, racism and homophobia within mainstream cinema. He's my go-to-guy for film reviews, and I loved that his Top Ten Films of 2015 were predominantly stories by women, starring women, or both!
9. Make Up
For me, make up has almost always been about self expression. As mentioned before, as a teenager I was heavily into goth fashion, and while my school uniform limited me fashion-wise, using cosmetics I could present exactly who I was. My eyeliner pencil was my weapon- a distinctive 'fuck off' to my bullies created through a series of thick black lines, giving me the front I could never express though words. In my late teens I discovered pin-up fashion- anyone who knows this style knows make up is seen as an essential piece of the costume- red lips scream Hollywood glamour and your winged eyeliner precision can 'make or break' your outfit. Today, while I subscribe to no particular style or look, I still adore make up but I can step outside bare faced and not feel ugly, though I know it brings many others a strength and confidence. When I wear make up, I see it as an optional accessory- pink lipstick may make the pattern of my outfit pop , an eyeshadow may bring some extra colour or sparkle to my outfit. While a bold lipstick no doubt makes me feel more bold in my appearance, for me it's all about trying new looks and experimenting, in the same way I approach my art. I think it's crucial that we respect the choices of others- if someone chooses not to wear make up, they're not boring or anti-femininity, and those who don cosmetics aren't necessarily anti-feminst or desperately trying to attract the opposite sex.
10. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or, A Modern Prometheus, is a beloved read of mine, and in my opinion, the book that gave birth to the horror genre we know today, as well as heavily influencing science fiction. I read it some ten years ago and was completely hooked- the concoction of death, deceit, abandonment and tragedy is a completely fascinating mixture that has rarely happened since within gothic horror, or at least to such an effective extent. The concept of telling part of a horror story from the view of the perpetrator is something we always credit to films like Michael Powell's Peeping Tom or John Carpenter's Halloween, yet Mary Shelley used this in such powerful and innovative way back in 1818. Today, so few women are given the chance to direct, write or produce horror titles, despite the genre's origins being in the pages of a female storyteller.
11. Being An Artist
The past decade or so (at least) has seen an increase in both young people studying to become illustrators, or differently trained art graduates turning to Illustration for job prospects. It's definitely an exciting time for Illustration, and I'm definitely having an exciting time Illustrating! Social media gives artists a voice that was much harder to project before- within seconds we can upload our views and opinions along with our artwork, there for the world to access. Many of you will have noticed the growth in feminist art lately. Artists like Gemma Correll, Joanna Thangiah, Carol Rossetti, and Murder of Goths are reblogged, reposted and shared not just for the aesthetics of their art, but for their message. Illustration, by definition, is the depiction of a concept in an image, and more and more illustrators are sharing their views through the techniques in which they are trained. Add to this the vast amount of self taught artists finding success on sites like Tumblr and Instagram, and we can see the start of a shift in the art world, proving that you don't have to be educated or based in wealthy, elitist areas to establish yourself as a creator of art. Historically, the art scene is also notorious for only promoting the art of white, heterosexual cisgendered men, but thanks to the internet, many other artists are making sure their work is seen and their names are known, and I think that's incredible. I love being part of an industry that is constantly altering, and I live in hope of more diversity within the arts!
12. Dom Clark
February 4th marks three years that I've been in a relationship with plus size blogger and professional photographer Dominic Clark and what a lovely three years it's been. We met on dating site Plenty of Fish in early 2013 and became a couple after simply two dates. He's incredibly patient and understanding of my mental health issues (even during a panic attack at our first date at a crowded gig!) and is such an inspiration to me. He's always appeared to be a confident guy, but within the past year or so, I've seen him really love his body, and seeing someone you love completely love themselves is a wonderful feeling. Contrary to popular belief, we're not married! We simply share the twenty seventh most popular name in the UK (and are definitely not related-we checked!). Dom has an incredible talent for photography, and is one half of wedding photographers Boutonniere Photography , as well as running an awesome blog that focuses on loving yourself and your life to the full, and looking damn good throughout!
Part Two of 24 That I Adore Coming Soon!
Melly Em Clark on Twitter and Instagram