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Friday, 26 June 2015

Sticks and Stones

There is a famous saying, that most of us learn in primary school, which goes:

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Although this may be a slightly round about way to come to this conclusion, when studying the poem 'Dulce et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen, I admired the way in which he took the saying 'Dulce et decorum est' and subverted it, to play on the words in a way that effectively made the opposite point. So, with that in mind, I would like to do a similar thing, in this post.

When looking at the first part of the phrase "sticks and stones will break my bones," it reminds us of the animalistic start that we as humans have had. We are thrown back to a time, when warfare in the playground meant rough and tumble, petty scrawls that were over in the blink of an eye. This can even be said to be true now, where fights are generally over in the matter of a few punches, it is perhaps the momentum of the fight that is carried forward, less so the physical brawl itself.

However, what I would like to focus on, in this article, is the second part of this saying, that goes "but words will never hurt me." Whilst I appreciate that at the time this was said, we were living in more tame and simple times, I would now like to work to change this saying, to something more generation appropriate.

Essentially, if you believe this saying, then you are, even without realising it, advocating the idea that words are harmless. This is an approach, that I now deem here to be incorrect. In a society particularly like today's I can see all around me the power that words have. It astonishes me the power that a combination of twenty-six letters can have on anyone. By minimising the effects that words can have, it does something more potent- it minimises the effects that people feel. It makes people feel as if they don't have a right to feel hurt or crushed by the poisonous words of someone else.

Whilst I can see that words will never have the effect of physically bruising someone. You will never walk away from a conversation with stab wounds next to your heart. I can however assure you, that anyone reading this who has been the victim of someone else's nasty words, will know that they would rather a punch in the face any day.

I think that most of the time, we are so oblivious to the effect our words are having, and whilst most of us strive to only use our words for the good, through the form of compliments, or biting our tongues when it is not appropriate to speak (see a previous post). Most people are more relaxed when it comes to thinking through the consequences of saying something that could bruising someone inside.

As a generation in a society where we are used to seeing the immediate effects of something, we often neglect to realise that whilst the results of words may not be seen in the here and now, that does not mean that your words aren't having an effect.

That is why, I would like to propose an amended phrase that would be a more helpful reminder to everyone:
"Sticks and stones will break my bones, just as words will also hurt me"
Using this quote, I hope to remind people that just as we will always see the results of a fist fight, wherever we may be, we will not always see the results of vicious words, but that doesn't mean that they won't be just as deadly.

-LF, LR and MG

Monday, 22 June 2015

An Open Letter to the UK

Like all sixteen-year olds my age, irrespective of my race, religion or ethnicity, I worry about normal sixteen-year old things: I worry about whether I have done the right homework and what to wear to the oh-so-important party next Saturday night. i worry about if I can afford those concert tickets that I am desperate to go to, and I worry about if that look that boy gave me that one time meant anything or not.

But unlike most other sixteen-year old girls, I worry about something that is far bigger than any of those trivial things:

As a sixteen year old, Jewish girl, I worry about something far greater- I worry about the rise in anti-Semitism, but particularly, the upcoming neo-Nazi rally as well as their decision to burn some of my most sacred books, and shred my Jewish homeland's flag.

Today, I was most alarmed to be informed that not only were people whoa re hell-bent in destroying the very thing I stand for, coming right to Golders Green in an attempt to belittle and desecrate my religion, but they were not going to stop there. They are also going to burn the books that my ancestry is written on. They are going to burn my history as if that will be effective in obliterating me.

In February I was fortunate enough to visit Poland with my year group. As I walked the paths of my ancestry, who seventy years before me were not as fortunate as I, because whilst I walked those same paths' with my head held high, clutching the arms of my extended family, I knew in my heart that nothing will ever do justice to the fact that, even though I walk free, walking is something amongst so many other things that six million of my brothers and sisters will never do again.

It has now been four months since I have returned from Poland, but it saddens me to say that since my return, I have noticed some alarming details that I feel, given what I have experienced, needs to be addressed.

Not only does this neo-Nazi rally remind me of the persecution suffered at the beginning of the Nazi regime that my brothers and sisters experienced just seventy years ago, but it is the burning of the books that hold the holy presence of my religion that is causing me to write this letter.

I am not asking you to believe in what I believe, but instead I am appealing to the human in you- the human that knows that if we enable this group of neo-Nazi's to have the power and satisfaction of knowing that they can get away with degrading me and my people, then it will empower them to go further and further.

Whilst many people argue that it is only a tiny minority of people that are going to participate in this rally, I see it as something else.

I see the beginnings of an extremely familiar trend that has followed my people round since time has begun. I see the sparks of persecution, and I do not like it. I see a chance for people to add fuel to the fire that should have been extinguished at the very least seventy years ago, when one man's hatred led to the mass annihilation of six million of my people as well as five million other people from all different religions and ethnicity's.

I am appealing to the human in you because i know that most of you reading this, will shake your head at the prospect of a neo-Nazi rally, and will acknowledge the kind of danger that this puts me and my people in, but will go no further than to sympathise with the pleas of a sixteen-year old girl.

I am asking you one simple thing, I am asking you to share this message with everyone, so that we turn a generation of by-standers, into a generation of those who seek to ensure that every person in the UK is living in comfortable safety.

I appeal to you because I know that when someone is killed or something is burnt, we reach out far and wide, and we cry as a country for the life lost and the bloodshed. But when the risk seem smaller and insignificant, people are more reluctant to stand up and put an end to what could be the start of something destructive.

So as I close this letter, I ask you as a sixteen-year old girl, who shares the same likes and dislikes, who goes to school and goes out with her friends, to help me by sharing this post and that hopes to raise awareness for help to protect my people.

I chose not to belittle or to humiliate those who have different views to mine, but to acknowledge them whilst reasserting the importance of my safety as well as my family's.

I ask you to share this post, and join the petition because like all other sixteen-year old girls, I just want to have fun, and not worry that the elimination of my people and what they stand for, is ever imminent.

Thank you,

LF, LR and MG

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Courage, Dear Heart

"Courage, dear heart"

This may be one of my favourite quotes of all time, even though it is short and simple, it really speaks to me unlike anything else.

For me, I believe that courage is an attribute that is seriously underrated. Mostly, people see others acting in a courageous way, but don't necessarily identify that behaviour with it actually being an act of courage. For other people however, courage is not how we act, but it is how we are.

The reason why I believe that courage is so underrated, is because no one ever knows what challenges you are fighting. This therefore means that whilst for you, going into a shop and asking an assistant for help, may be the most courageous thing you have done in a long time, for others, opening up about a problem that have, will be the most courageous thing they will ever do.

This is not because some people have less challenges than others, it is because the way we perceive challenges are based on our own experiences. So, in my rational mind, I know that someone coming out as gay, takes so much more courage than I can ever imagine. Just as, for me, opening up about certain events in my life, took all the courage I have.

Whilst one person exerting courage is no different to another, regardless of what scale we may understand it to be on, it is easy to only identify certain things as an act as courage, when really, who are we to judge whether or not something is courageous, coming from that person.

We often neglect to realise that something that is completely normal to us, such as wearing shorts, or going out the house with no make up, or getting out of bed in the morning, is actually one of the most courageous acts for someone that we just don't know about.

This is why, I am therefore proposing that this post celebrates every single one of you out there, who is courageous on a regular basis even without anyone noticing.

To anyone who knows that their greatest struggle at the moment is getting out of bed, but every morning, they summon their courage and they rise to the challenge.

Here's to anyone who suffers with a mental or physical illness which means they are faced with challenges that can mentally and physically cripple them, but they bravely battle them anyway.

And here's to anyone who is just having a bad day or a hard time. To anyone who just needs to know, that even if no one around you is going to tell you this, then we are. We are going to tell all of you that you are brave and strong and you have courage that I could only dream of having.

Courage is hard, and sometimes we don't manage to do what we think we want or need to do, and that's okay too. As long as we remember to celebrate people for what they are able to do, and what they still struggle to do, then thats okay.

It is important to not only celebrate all the times that we have fought to find our courage and won, but also all the times that it just wasn't a fight we could beat.

So here I am now, giving you the tools to empower yourself, and in this way, I hope that everyone comes to recognise the importance of courage and how much it impacts our lives.


Thursday, 18 June 2015

"Sorry, I'm Not Wearing Any Makeup"

"Sorry, please excuse my horrific face today, I'm not wearing any makeup".

This is a sentence that I find myself using frequently when I see people that I know, or am acquainted with, out in public whilst I give my skin a rest from brushing and painting different combinations of chemicals on it on a day-to-day basis. I say this because they are probably not used to seeing me in this state, as I will most likely be wearing makeup if I am going shopping, out with friends or even to school. Obviously I feel comfortable with my nearest and dearest without makeup, however I still use that sentence embedded within my greeting.

Personally, I wear makeup in order to hide spot scarring (which I frequently end up with because my skin hates me), and also because I am a makeup enthusiast. I do not wear foundation unless it is a special occasion, though my hobbies include experimenting with different eyeshadows, eyeliners and even the occasional lipstick.

However, this is not the case for others. In today's society, people feel pressured to wear makeup due to their peers wearing it, their favourite celebrities looking beautiful with paint caked onto their faces and the media expressing how girls should look. (My friend/fellow blog writer posted something onto this blog talking about a similar subject last week - find that here). I believe strongly that people should reevaluate the reasons why they are wearing makeup, as it should purely be down to a personal decision - who cares what other people think?!

Moreover, why on earth should you be sorry for not wearing makeup??? I don't seem to see anybody saying "Oh, I sincerely apologise for expressing my natural beauty, I know it is within my rights but I do wish to spare your eyes from seeing such a mess", which is essentially what the statement means. Or, at least, what it means to me.

So I, for one, am going to put an end to this statement. If I feel like I am going to say sorry for giving my face a breather for a day, I am going to stop myself and point out something that I like about my face. I mean, for me I'll always say it's my eyes as, like our co-blog-owner's-boyfriend says: "I hate you because you have nice eyes". I like that.

I urge you all to join me on this mission, and by doing this tiny thing can edge us closer to slamming the media's extortionate expectation of teenage girls.

Thank you so much for reading, and thank you for 100 followers!!! We cannot believe it, and are eternally grateful.

-LF, LR and MG

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Carousel That Never Stops Turning

"It's horrible being a grown up, the carousel never stops turning."

Whilst I may have borrowed this line from Greys Anatomy, it nevertheless serves to demonstrate my point in this post.

You see what Ellis Grey is exploring is that life never stops, it just goes on and on. No amount of tragedy or otherwise will slow down the pace or change how things happen. Although Ellis Grey may be a fictional character, she makes an excellent point, which is that life will always keep going on and on.

It isn't going to slow down when we need it to, we might resist life, we might attempt to take a time out every now and again, but essentially, it will keep on keeping on, because that's what it does.

At times, this can be something that we come to resent. We just need five minutes grace to gather our thoughts and work some things through, but even if it doesn't seem like a good thing, ultimately it is what keeps us going, even when we don't think we are capable of going ourselves.

The point being, that even when things feel like they are at rock bottom, and are never going to get any better, they are. The carousel never stops turning, and that means that at some point things will change, they will turn around for the millionth time and something new will appear.

For most people, the biggest battle comes when they need to move with life, not against it. So how can we teach ourselves to move with life and become more resistant?

Here are some pointers that have definitely helped me, when I feel like I need the world to slow down:

1) Find pleasure in the small things: Look out of your window, into the world and find pleasure in the sky and nature. Nature is so beautiful but we often feel that the pace of life is too fast to appreciate it. Every now and then glancing at nature and taking even just a few seconds to appreciate how beautiful the world we live in is, will help to keep your feet on the ground and make you remember that what we see on a minuscule scale, is so much bigger.

2) Sometimes its okay to go where life takes you: The reason why most of us feel so stressed all the time, is because we are so used to being able to control every tiny aspect of our lives. In reality, it would do us all good to throw up our hands and tell ourselves that whatever will be, will be. Whether we like it or not, for the most part this is how life turns out. There is a famous saying that "We make plans, and god laughs" and I think that this is so true. Obviously some things you have to plan, but when you think of it in terms of the carousel, eventually whatever will happen, will happen and so if we just go with the flow of life, it will relieve that pressure even for a small amount of time.

3) Find some calming exercises: As simple as this sounds, it works wonders. For just five minutes a day, find a quiet spot, sit down and just do some breathing exercises. Most people think this is a waste of time, but I'm telling you, that as you relieve the tension in your body, it will feel as if everything is slowing down, which will have a calming effect on you. If you do this once or twice a week, it will give you time to just think over things and make yourself slightly more stress free. Its worth it, I promise.

I know that the pace of life moves so fast that often we can't even look up at our big world and admire where we are and what we are doing, but sometimes when you feel like the carousel is just turning too fast, then this is what you need to do.

Just stop for a few seconds and realise that you have been put here for a reason, and smile to yourself, knowing that no matter how fast the carousel is going, you will always be able to make your mark on the world.


Thursday, 11 June 2015

How to Bite Your Tongue

Sometimes, you come across some genuinely lovely people. They comfort you when you're down and never cease to put a smile across your face. They are warm, welcoming and just downright great people.

Sometimes, you meet people who are the exact opposite. Every little thing that they do grates on you and some things seem as if they are doing it with you in mind, purely because they know you wouldn't like it. You will never get used to their ignorance and attention-seeking behaviour, which contrasts so greatly to your own nature.

It seems impossible to stop yourself from speaking your mind and telling this person how you truly feel. Though there are some things to bare in mind...

1) Words are powerful

It is easy to forget that words hold so much power and meaning which can cause people to have their feelings hurt, and you never know the kinds of effects that words may have on them.

2) Everyone has something going on

After all, these people are human too. They may be acting horrible because there is so much going on with them at home that they need to take it out on the nearest person, which just so happened to be you.

3) It is okay to talk to other people

Rather than taking your anger out on this person or other people, it is okay to seek expert advice. If they are genuinely out to get you, I urge you to speak to a parent or teacher to see what they say. After all, they have enough experience to share some brilliant advice with you.

That is all I have to remember when it comes to situations like these. If you have any extra advice or have specific situations that you want to share, I urge you to leave a comment and we can do our best to help. It may be useful due to the anonymity of this blog.

Remember, we are here to help.

- LF, LR and MG


Friday, 5 June 2015

The War Between The Media and Self Perception

I know its been a while since one of us has posted, as explained by a previous post, but now since my exams are finished (yay), I thought I'd give you all some food for thought.

Generally, most of us don't realise what is going on. You see an advert that asks you if your body is beach body perfect and we just walk on by, pretending as if you aren't already staring down at our thighs, asking ourselves if we are beach body perfect.

We are constantly subjected to millions of subliminal messages that tell us that unless we are a size zero, thigh gap ready, sexually appealing teenage girl, then we should do anything we can, to change ourselves.

The continual objectification of women, takes a toll on us eventually, as there is a very small percentage of girls that can tell you that they believe themselves to be 'size zero, thigh gap ready and sexually appealing'.

So what happens to the rest of us?

What do we do, when we stand in front of the mirror, pinching lumps of our flesh, and questioning our existence, based on the pictures of all the 'millions' of beach body ready girls out there, sighing at our perceived incompetence, and wondering how much more we can do to change?

When we stand there and scrutinise every 'less-than-perfect' bump, lump and scab, do you know what we are doing in truth? We are doing what the media wants us to do, we are reconceptualising our own self worth and turning it into how stick thin we can make ourselves or how bikini ready we can be.

What these messages are really telling us, is that as long as you get there in the end, it doesn't matter how you do it. And that is the real danger.

5% of teenage girls in the UK are suffering with anorexia. This statistic only concerns those girls suffering with anorexia, there are other eating disorders as well.

The media portrayal of what it means to be perfect, as a way of objectifying and degrading the self worth and acceptance of beauty being in everyone, is changing the way that we perceive ourselves.

My favourite advert is the dove advert, because it openly promotes beauty in all sizes and races. It proudly tells young girls and boys that they should be happy with their bodies and love themselves for who they are, and not what the number on the scale says.

I think what I am trying to say, is that whilst we may roll our eyes at the picture perfect, blemish free and fat free pictures and posters of women that we see everywhere we go, we need to take a moment to realise that that isn't real life.

Real life is the ugly scar above your knee from when you fell your bike when you were seven. Real life is the freckle on your arm that you work so hard to cover up, and for what? Real life is that fat that clings to us for its dear life, in places that we don't want it to.

Real life is knowing that there are things that we might not life about ourselves, but accepting the people that we are anyway. Its knowing that what we are told we should look like, is not what we look like, and that's okay.

Its knowing that the media is poisoning us against ourselves, and the best way to beat the media is to stare the media right in the face and smile at it, like a big FUCK YOU when we are happy and healthy.

The best way to show the media that no matter how many times it tries to tell us that we should look a certain way, is to look the way that you want to look, to look the way that you are and be proud.

Its about being proud of who you are and what you look like, and knowing that no amount of pathetic, unrealistic photoshopped image is going to make you doubt who you are.

There are seven billion diverse and beautiful people on this planet, it would be criminal if we all end up fitting into the same plastic mould.

-LF, LR and MG