The Exquisite Irony Is Not Lost On Me

The problem with having a hotmail account is, simply put, MSN. Usually it makes me angry; today I just rolled my eyes so hard I fear I may have lost an eyeball.

Screenshot of MSN main site, which has a link entitled "why do women hate their bodies?" next to another link, "how to avoid gaining weight on holiday"

Description: Picture shows part of a screen shot of MSN’s uk website from Tuesday 27th July 2010. A picture of a racially ambiguous woman with brown eyes and straight brown hair fills most of the screen. She is shown from the shoulders up, wearing a white strappy top (I assume) and a white headband, using a hair straightener. To the right is a headline: “Look slimmer instantly” with the tagline “2o ways to look like you’ve lost weight – without diet or exercise“. Underneath are two links, in this order:

  • Why do women hate their bodies?
  • How to avoid gaining weight on holiday

Oh, MSN. You’re practically a bingo card all by yourself.

(Incidentally, I clicked on the link, so that you didn’t have to go looking for it, and it turns out that the dude who wrote the opinion piece – there go my eyes again! – has begun to see where the problem might lie, which kind of makes it worse:

Marketers tell men to be fit and strong. They tell women to be beautiful. And when the essence of beauty is an unhealthily skinny supermodel whose wrinkles have been airbrushed away, that’s an impossible ask.

So my advice – and I know it’s easy for me to say – is to ignore them.

Why, thank you, Captain Obvious. Now, moving on: why do smokers hate their lungs? 870 words later, I have concluded that smokers should just pack in the smoking! Because it’s just that simple!)

Femininity: Perhaps I Do It Too Well…

Yesterday, neither I nor J felt like cooking. And, you know, when even *I* look in the fridge, freezer and cupboard and my only response is “meh”, you know that’s some seriously uninspiring food!

So we decided to go out. And it had been raining, which meant wet pavements, which meant wet jeans, which meant a potentially uncomfortable dining experience. Being sneaky, I thought “ooh! I could wear a skirt!”

Do you want to know my thought patterns as I got changed out of my manky I’m-revising-so-don’t-care-if-I-look-grim clothes? I bet you do:

Oooh! I could wear a skirt! That way my ankles will stay dry. Hmm, better wear tights though. Maybe I don’t want to look like a peasant girl in my swooshy skirt. Ok, I’ll wear that smart skirt I haven’t had an excuse to wear yet. Oh, but it’s got a red lining. I’ve only got two red tops. One of them’ll go, surely. No, this one’s too casual. And the other one emphasises the breastsplosion I’ve got going on. Crap. Well, maybe a black top would do? I can’t wear a shirt, I’ll look like I’m auditioning for a part in a porn film. Anyway, J’s wearing jeans. I’ll look stupid if I wear something too smart. But all the rest of my black tops just don’t go. They’re faded, or make me look slightly pregnant, or just *boring*. Ok. How about turquoise. Yeah. That’ll do. Right. Shoes. Well, my high-heeled knee-high pirate boots clearly don’t work. Also, see the porn comment. Ok, then, the little ones with the strap. Fuck, I look like a seven-year-old dressing up.

Sod it, I’m wearing jeans. The faded black one’s’ll do. They’re clean. And that red top I said was too casual. That looks nice. And that red necklace I’ve got. And my normal, black shoes. Ok, they’re the same ones my mother wears, but who’s going to care? Anyway, I can walk in them.

This thought process I present to you almost without comment. Except to say: some women must do this all the time. How exhausting. How time-consuming. And how upsetting. Fuck that.

A Word Of Advice

Something that is true of me: I bite my nails. My, aren’t we learning a lot about Rachel these days? If I carry on like this I’ll end up with the equivalent of one of those stupid chain emails (“what are you REALLY like?! write back and tell all your friends!!!) on the blog.

Well, never mind. Some things are worth sharing.

So. My advice is this: if you are somebody who has periods, and who bites their nails, and who isn’t colourblind, you know what’s a really good – if a little traumatizing – way to stop?

Paint your nails blood-red whilst you’re on your period.

Seriously. No matter how small and stumpy your bitten nails are. Do that, and I can pretty much guarantee that the first (and second, and… and eleventybillionth) time you raise your newly colourful hands to your mouth, you’ll catch sight of the red, and your immediate response will be “aaaaargh!!!”

Not only will the terror make you want to have nothing to do with your hands ever again, nail polish is not a good taste. And tiny chips of nail polish are hard to get off your teeth. True story. (Of course, when I was a child, my mum once painted my nails with that nail varnish that deliberately tastes foul, and all that happened was that I brushed my tongue with my toothbrush after biting my nails. So the taste thing won’t work for everybody. Or on its own. Now, if that foul-tasting varnish had been coloured brown, maybe…)

I’ve now repainted my nails purple, which – as you might be able to tell from the font colour – is more of a “me” shade. But I’m still going “aaaargh!”. Mainly because my hands, newly feminine, don’t look like mine anymore. Although they are quite cool, and occasionally I find myself holding my hands up so that I can admire them. Who knows – perhaps this will be the year I finally learn how to use nail clippers.

Well, That Didn’t Take Long, Did It?

Yesterday, I said that we should none of us feel safe if France goes ahead and bans muslim women from wearing veils. And now?

Should the UK ban the Muslim face veil?” asks the BBC.

I suppose I should feel grateful that they’ve presented ‘both sides’ of the ‘debate’. Objectively.

Actually, fuck that. You’ve never got an obligation to present ‘both sides’, especially when one of those ‘sides’ includes UKIP.

Filed Under “Things That Make Me Feel Unsafe”

Via the BBC website (which has only just caught up with the news that radio 4 gave me a few days ago):

“A French parliamentary committee has recommended a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils…. The BBC’s Hugh Schofield, in Paris, says the reasoning behind the report is to make it as impractical as possible for women in face veils to go about their daily business.”

This is nonsensical. Worse. It’s dangerous.

Not because of OMG TERRORISTS either. It’s dangerous because this is a law specifically designed to target women from the “wrong” religion. It’s as though France – which feels predominantly christian, whatever bollocks they spout about being secular; there’s a reason they do bugger all on a Sunday – has, in a fit of masculine posturing, metaphorically shaken its fist at Islam, saying “well, muslim men, we don’t like you, so we’re going to persecute your women!”

I could analyse this to death, but I’m going to stop here, pausing only to say this:

When a country as rabidly invested in the democratic model as France is can create laws like this, that affect women, and only women, when the rulers of that kind of a nation recall that yes, they are still, after all, a patriarchy, and they can still legislate the ways they think women should dress and behave, then we are none of us safe.

Words I Have Used Today: Breastsplosion

This is what happens when your breasts suddenly increase in size – it is an explosion of breast; a breastsplosion, if you will.

Because this month I have been the unimpressed victim of a breastsplosion, I’ve decided that now would be the time to start wearing bras again.

So I went to Marks and Spencers to get myself measured (I don’t own a tape measure myself, sadly) and thoroughly confused the sales woman. Just to make things clear, I was wearing a jumper, which I removed, and a strappy top, which I did not.

Her: [whilst measuring me] So, what size bra are you wearing at the moment?

Me: [surprised that she hadn’t noticed the bleedin’ obvious] Um, I’m not. [expaining] I only came here because my breasts got bigger.

Her: Oh. Well, what size bra do you normally wear?

Me: I… don’t.

Her: [gives me a confused look] Ok… well. Um. You’re a 34 D.

I managed to escape before getting a lecture on “going bra-less makes your breasts sag!!1!11!!!ELEVENTY!”

At this point, I really do wonder: why is it a problem for my breasts to sag? I mean, they’re not going to fall off (although frankly at this point, I’d hardly miss them if they did, they’ve become so annoying), and presumably my nipples will still function so I can’t imagine that the “won’t somebody PLEASE think of the CHILDREN” argument being particularly effective, so… why? Why does it matter? (And if, at this point, anybody is tempted to tell me that breasts that aren’t in bras are unattractive, all I can say is: well, I probably wouldn’t want to fuck you either.)

Just In Time To Make Me Feel Great About Going Back To Uni…

… Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, has been an utter douche.

Joy. Of. Joys.

You know what’s reasonable for me to need to be concerned about when I go back to uni?

My modules, my timetables, my exams, my finances, my notes… the list goes on. It’s not pleasant, granted, but it’s kind of expected that you might have to think about those things.

You know what’s not reasonable for me to need to be concerned about when I go back to uni?

Whether my male lecturers are trying to look down my top.

How a man clever enough to be a professor can be stupid enough to be such an entitled, arrogant, heteronormative, sexist shit-for-brains astounds me.

Or, you know, maybe he’s not that stupid. Maybe he was smart enough to know that he wouldn’t really get called out on it. After all, it’s only the NUS Womens’ Officer who’s objected. Not anybody important, like that spokesman from the University and Colleges Union. It’s not like anybody with any power to do anything cares.

I feel stabbity.

A Different Kind Of Impulse Buy

Up in the grim North, we’ve had two full days of sunshine.

I’ve reacted accordingly:


The temptation was just too great, and besides, it was only ten quid!

Just for you, Llencelyn

I don’t usually post pictures of myself online. In fact, there aren’t many pictures of me to be found anywhere. I’m elusive that way.

But then I stumbled across Llencelyn’s blog, and I got a little scared. Here’s two pictures of me, and a picture of her, so that everybody else can be scared, too. Llencelyn, be warned. If ever you grow your hair out, or need glasses, this is what you will look like.




My LOL of the Day

You  know how sometimes, if you say things often enough, people latch on to the idea?

Like the way my father and his friends talked about money all day to my uncle when they were away on a cycling holiday, and then that night my uncle said, in his sleep “big cheques are the worst when you have to write them”.

So, anyway, one of the things I say often, and usually in tones of great disgust, is “if you can’t tell me what a calorie is, you shouldn’t be counting them.”

Well. J called me today to tell me that one of his managers was going on a diet. The conversation went something like this:

J: [manager]’s on a diet.

R: Well, tell her the BBC said she’ll get flu AND DIE!!!

J: I can’t, I’ve already told her that she can’t count calories unless she can tell me what they are.

R: [laughs like a fool] And could she?

J: Um… well, you know how when you’re not quite sure about what you’re saying, and it works better if you believe it than if you don’t?

R: Ye-e-e-e-e-e-e-es?

J: Yeah, she didn’t really believe it. She tried to tell me that they were like… little… balls… of fat….

R: Hmm. Do you know what they are?

J: Well, you know how when you’re not quite sure about what you’re saying….

R: *sigh*

J:…. a little thing… a unit… of energy…???

R: Yay! [pauses] But you still can’t go on a diet.

J: OK.

R: According to the BBC, you’ll get flu, AND DIE!!!!

The whole diet-in-winter=flu=death vs diet-in-summer=sexaaaay thing is bothering me somewhat, as anybody who’s been on the Sheffield Fems site recently will be able to testify. Not that I’m gratuitously self-referencing at all.