Monthly Archives: November 2017

Prince Harry, Meghan, and the Immigration rules

I wrote this for the Independent. Right now, I’m at 26,000 shares and at least 500 Twitter interactions. I’m not usually able to do a hot take, so this was an exhilarating experience (and clearly my most successful article ever in terms of engagement)

I haven’t read the comments.

Capture

Update: as of 1 January 2017, 61k shares. Whoa.

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Thoughts and Prayers and…

Maybe it has always been the case, but after the mass shooting in a Texas church earlier this month, I noticed a backlash to politicians trotting out the phrase “thoughts and prayers..” – especially politicians who in the next breath went on to affirm, as always, that an epidemic of mass shootings has nothing to do with a need for better gun regulation in the US.

Time Magazine took an interesting look at language, cliche’s and grief which noted that

Politicians (and journalists) have long turned to cliches because of the nature of their work. It’s grueling and repetitive, often requiring them to communicate a message to a whole districtful of people, if not an entire country. They generally want to do this in language that won’t be misconstrued, that doesn’t leave them vulnerable to attacks, that feels familiar. Cliches aren’t just overused because they’re clever; they are also safe. You can assume people will know what you mean when you use rhetoric that so many have used before you, even if it is stale as old toast.

However, it also pointed out that the backlash may have something to do with the fact that:

Repeating the same language can even feed into the feeling that mass shootings are becoming normal and unworthy of deep, sustained attention, much less legislative action.

I’ve noticed some religious people offended at the backlash, taking it as more evidence of an increasingly sceptical world when it comes to spiritual matters. But I think there’s more to it than that. Grief takes you beyond yourself. Everyone responds differently. Some will find comfort in other people’s prayers, others will not – and that goes for those who are spiritual or religious as well as those who are not.

But I do think that those of us who are part of faith or belief communities who trot out cliches and then decline to take any action in the face of gun violence – especially Christians, who tend to be the most high-profile offenders, need to sit in the backlash and feel the burn.

We should burn if we offer people cliches instead of transformative action. Prayer is not meant to be a passive act. If you are really praying about the issue of gun violence, if you are truly in a dialogue about it with God, then I don’t know how you can not be changed by it, especially if you are a policymaker who can take meaningful action.

Prayer is not meant to be a wish sent up to heaven, it’s a dialogue – and one that should charge you to do something. We are here, fragile flesh and bone, with hands and feet to transform the world we live in, supposedly for the better. I don’t understand how politicians can claim to be praying one moment, and cling blindly to the ideology of guns the next, as if somehow this is a sacred issue that was enshrined once in law and can never be reopened again. And do so in the face of such overwhelming suffering of their fellow citizens.

The backlash against the cliche of thought and prayers is richly deserved. Maybe shame will do what prayer and compassion apparently cannot.

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Fen-tastic

Right, so cheesy pun there. Rihanna has never been on my radar much; her music wasn’t particularly to my tastes, though I had nothing against it, and I thought she was beautiful and clearly talented but was not a fan girl.

Something that I have noticed recently, however, and perhaps I would have noticed this earlier if I had actually been a fan, is how independent she is. She’s a savvy businesswoman – her makeup line Fenty has changed the game by simply acknowledging that women of every shade should have makeup that suits their skin. Other brands have widened their ranges over the years, but Fenty set out to cater for every shade from albino to the darkest black from the outset. No tiptoeing around the edges, they just dived right in and what I find striking is that every woman has at least a couple of shades that might suit her. Everyone.

But what really impressed me recently was her body positivity, revealed in an interview for Cut Magazine in which she was asked about her approach to clothing:

“Well, I actually have had the pleasure of a fluctuating body type, where one day I can literally fit into something that is bodycon, and then the next day — the next week — I need something oversized; I need a little crop here and a high-waist there to hide that part, you know?

I really pay attention every day when I go into the closet about what’s working for my body that morning. I feel like that’s how everyone should go after fashion, because it’s an individual thing. And then, if you take it further, it’s like: What week are you having? You having a skinny week? You having a fat week? Are we doing arms this week? We doing legs this week? We doing oversized?

I love to play with silhouettes as well, but I think it’s important to make sure that you wear the thing that works for your body the best, and that’s flattering.” – Rihanna

There’s something beautiful and so very rare about a woman who is at peace with her body and makes the clothes fit her frame, rather than the other way around. I love that Rihanna is a positive role model and yes, she has stylists and custom made clothes, but while her wardrobe is out of reach, her attitude is something we can all adopt.

I remember falling in love with my thighs a few years ago. Not because they’re lovely  – far from it. But because they’re mine. They’re huge and strong and curvy and have cellulite but they are mine.

Since I was a teen I have hated my legs, especially my knees. But as I got older and my body changed, I found that my thighs bothered me the most. I steered well clear of tight jeans and skirts and sought to cover up my lower half whenever possible.

And then one day, at the grand old age of 30, I just stopped*. I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw, because it was very me. Men may hate or love them, and thick thighs are currently in vogue thanks to Nicki Minaj, but I try to make how I feel about my body my plumb line for self-confidence. It doesn’t always work, but like Rihanna, I find what makes me feel cute (nice underwear especially) and rock it. I’ve found the looks that flatter my shape and feel good – they aren’t always in fashion, but I’m true to my style.

 

*being in my thirties is amazing. I think I’ll have to write about it sometime.

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