Monday, 24 April 2017

NEWS: Bury Tomorrow Revealed As Secret Special Guests For Slam Dunk 2017

It's about a month away now guys. Can you believe festival season is upon us again! 
Unfortunately for me it falls on the weekend of my brothers wedding ( no offence bro) so I can't get as immersed as usual, but there's nothing stopping you all from attending one or more of the dates and kicking off festival season in fantastic style. 

Today began with the joyous news of another exciting edition to the already spectacular line up, in the shape of Bury Tomorrow, who have been announced at the secret special guests. 

They will be tearing up the Main Stage/Jagermeister Stage with the likes of Don Broco, Deaf Havana, Crossfaith, and highly anticipated headliners Enter Shikari. 
After enjoying the success of their latest Album ‘Earthbound’ and returning straight from UK headline tour , including their biggest show ever I believe (which featured heavily on my instagram feed recently) they are sure to make their presence known over the bank holiday weekend.
Slam Dunk’s Ben Ray says ‘I’m so happy to have Bury Tomorrow back again! Although they DJ’d at last year’s event we certainly missed them live! It’s actually the first time this year we have had heavy bands on the main stage, so it was only right we include them!
As well as deliving ardent alt fans an unparalleled display of pop-punk icons and buzz bands across 8 stages, Slam Dunk Festival is also offering an unique and one-off anniversary performances from British musical legends Enter Shikari. Already lauded for their live experience this is a set sure to deliver serious regret for anyone who misses it.
We will also be treated to debut albums in full with American pop-rockers Cute Is What We Aim For and We The Kings, a special reunion performance from Madina Lake -who I haven't seen or spoken to since 2010 - and the final-ever shows from We Are The Ocean (booo). 
Whether you’re at Birmingham on May 27th, Leeds on May 28th or Hatfield on May 29th, Slam Dunk Festival 2017 this is the perfect way to kick off your summer. 

If you haven't been before and want a taster of what you're in for check out my little vid from last year...Panic at the Disco were soooo goooood. 

Enter Shikari, Don Broco, Bowling For Soup, Neck Deep, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Deaf Havana, Beartooth, Tonight Alive, We Are The Ocean, Crossfaith, Against Me!, The Bronx, With Confidence, Goldfinger, Mad Caddies, Waterparks, The Movielife, Frank Iero & The Patience, Decade, Bury Tomorrow, Zebrahead, Counterfeit, We The Kings, The Ataris, Fenix TX, Milk Teeth, The Maine, Cute Is What We Aim For, Memphis May Fire, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, Madina Lake, Set It Off, Citizen, Black Foxxes, Turnover, Crime In Stereo, Seaway, Fort Hope, SHVPES, Trophy Eyes, Boston Manor, WSTR, Like Pacific, Puppy, Sorority Noise, The Gospel Youth, Stray From The Path, Ocean Grove, I Prevail, Vukovi, Ice Nine Kills, Area 11, Oceans Ate Alaska, Sylar, Too Close To Touch, Casey, Makeout, MC Lars.
Advance tickets £44 or £49 with after party are on sale now.
Twitter - @slamdunkmusic
Instagram - @slamdunkmusic


How I relax (when I do)

I know a more click-worthy blog title would be ‘Tip on how to relax’- but what I’ve found in preparation for this post, and when asking others about what they turn to for relaxation, the answers have proven that what is effective can be very individual.

For instance, Si said he’s at his happiest and most relaxed when cooking up a storm in the kitchen. But I can tell you right now, that me attempting to rustle something up would deliver quite the opposite effect for me…and for anyone having to consume the results.

I know some Dads that would escape to the golf course when needing a break from the chaos and noise of the family home. However whenever my Dad used this technique in an attempt to wind down, he’d come home a bit gruff, feeling frustrated due to having a bad round or grumpy having had to drive and putt through with miserable British weather.

So I’m going to be honest about what relaxes me. Only me. You may not understand some of them, in fact there’s a chance some of them may disgust you or make you think I’m a weirdo (even more so that you do already). Hopefully there will be a few that will make you nod in a agreement, or intrigue you enough to entice you to give it them a try too.

Soak it up

I know, it’s a bloody obvious one, but it’s only obvious because it’s true. A shower doesn’t do the trick, because for a start you have to stand which means you’re having to use some of your body’s strength. I turn to a shower for speed of cleaning or if I’m looking to the pace and pressure of the water to perk me up in the morning . A bath means you can let your body flop and allow to water (and whatever you put into it) to soothe you aches and pains. If money was no object I would of course incorporate some sort of Lush product in that water, but plain steaming hot water still does a lot in terms of making me zone out for reality for a bit. I know many escape to the bathroom for peace and quiet, but I like to rest my laptop on the loo and put something on whether that be a Netflix show or an Iplayer favourite like the Great Pottery Throwdown.

Watch Some Trash

Talking of watching screens, As you know I love to watch thought provoking films and shows, the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching  but they get the brain wurring too much, and we don’t want to have much thought going on. I find a good approach for relaxation is either finding a show you’ve watched so many times it doesn’t require any brain power to follow it anymore. The sort of show that you could drop of and snooze through half of it and wake up being able to talk along with the script. For me that would be shows like The Office, The Trip, Friends, Ally McBeal, Sex and The City. What would yours be?


It's not breaking news that meditation works wonder and that it is something we should all be finding time to do it each day. if you're like me you will have made excuses for years about not having time to put 10-20 minutes aside, but if we are brutally honest with ourselves there is always something we can trade out - a session of Netflix viewing, time scrolling Instagram, chatting on Whatsapp, a bit less time spent on doing our hair., less general faffing.Till recently I had been using a CD that my therapist had given me but I’ve now moved on to the popular Headspace App. The first time I used it I found myself still going to those thoughts of stress and anxiety, but the calming voice assures you this is fine and perfectly normal.

Neutrogena Mask

The brand recently released their revolutionary Light Therapy Acne Mask, a wearable LED device that delivers red and blue wavelengths deep into the skin at the speed of light to disrupt the acne cycle. The blue light kills bacteria while the red light reduces the inflammation linked to acne - at a push of a button for ten minutes per session. This is a technique that has been used professionally for years, but Neutrogena has now delivered a product that utilises the same demtagolist technology at an energy level that's safe to use at home. An obvious and noteable bonus is of course the difference in cost too. But I'm not going to refer to it's effectiveness in terms of reducing acne here, I'm going to tell you about a surprise benefit I found from using it every day. Okay aside from the fact it makes Si jump out of his skin when I walk in the bedroom with it on, it's actually provided me with an excuse to lie down and zone out for ten minutes each day. I guess in a way it has encouraged me to stick to my meditation and use the the sessions of light fuelled spot zapping to prepare myself mentally for the day ahead. 
RRP MASK - £59.99
Available for Boots and Amazon

Taking pictures

The best part about taking pictures is that it concentrates your focus on that moment, that subject or thing you’re trying to capture. At no point do I find myself thinking about anything but the photo and capturing an image. It's another form of Mindfullness really. It also encourages you to change your environment which I think it's very important particularly if the space you are in is causing you stress. You also get that feeling of satisfaction which no doubt releases some positive energy into your body. There's nothing better than looking through your photos and being excited and happy with what you've managed to document or create.

Visual stimulation on my ceiling/relaxing lighting

I’ve have insomniac episodes for years now, so much so that I’ve been left with a necessity which impacts Simon’s sleeping habits. I don’t like sleeping in the dark, if it were up to me I’d have the TV on at low volume every night. Si has indulged me in the past, but these days he complains about the distraction when I attempt to keep the TV on when we go to sleep. So it came to a point where either me or him would suffer from a lack of sleep. Then I got these light products from Prezzy Box, we found a solution that would deliver a happy medium. I know it will make me sound like a toddler that needs a mobile above their cot to drift off, but the movements of the coloured lights really do help me fall into dreamland. It’s still quite new so it has that novelty value too and I get quite excited about the prospect of turning it on each night. It's has too ways of using it too. It can be more soothing if the lid is kept on and placed on the bedside table but I prefer to get mesmerized by the ceiling projections that occue when you unscrew the sphere top. 


I use this one for my naps as it doesn't matter that it isn't pitch black and I tend to have naps in the day time. I find the change in the colour really soothing to have in the corner of my eye when settling done for a brief siesta. This one comes with sound effects too including the sound of a stream rippling, frog noises, sea waves, Bird-song and then bird song twinned with the sound of water. I find the sound too loud, maybe because my rooms are a bit small, so I opt to just use the light, and there's a switch that easily allows for that.


Spot Squeezing videos.

Okay, I know it’s a bit niche. Okay maybe that’s being kind, I know some of you will think I’m a bit of a wrongan, but judging by the view counts I’m not alone in this - maybe I’m just foolishly loud about my fondness. But if you think about it, it’s not that far off from other visual aids we turn to for mindfull-ness purposes. Although my friends send me the odd link to an article they’ve seen on the Daily Mail  showing a phone video of a guy/girl who’s had a spot for years which has finally been squeezed, but on the whole I watch the professionals, you know, the skin doctors. That makes it a bit less wrong right? Please….guys??  

A head massage/leg/foot massage.

I’ll take any sort of massage at this point. I remember in the early days of my and Si’s relationship it was offered up fairly regularly, these days I have to beg and usually put up with it being postponed on three separate occasions before it actually happens. But when it does, boy is it a glorious occasion. If money was no object I’d go to spa’s and have regularly professional ones, but in absence of any funds whatsoever Si will have to do. I guess having your partner do it makes it a bonding experience too? It’s just annoying that the session of relaxation is always followed by work…Si now demands back scratches as a thank you for his massaging efforts.


I’m not talking about tackling a project like my bedroom, which some you will know has been christened ‘The Cesspit of Doom’, no, I’m talking about those manageable tidying tasks that brings a huge amount of satisfaction in a relatively short amount of time. It might be taking on that miscellaneous draw that houses everything that either needs hiding or doesn’t seem to have a proper and rightful place. Perhaps it’s sorting through your nail varnishes and chucking out the ones that have gone gloopy or hard. Maybe it’s sharpening all the pencils in your pencil case. Maybe its shredding your receipts and pretending you didn’t spend that money you don’t have. Whatever it is that does it for you…my friend Barn actually uses the excuse that she’s doing her paperwork as an reason not to come out, she bloody loves it!

A Walk.

Sometimes it’s just a short walk round the corner to this tiny enclosed park which always has a few doggies in, so we have the opportunity to get some fresh air and stalk some furry friends, and other times we got to our favourite spots like Hampton river, Bushy park, Virginia Water or Shere. I just think fresh air does everyone some good, and its particularly helpful if you’re suffering with some sort of work block. You always seen to come back refreshed and ready to get back to it for of ideas and ways to advance. I think being around nature also has a hugely positive effect on me I definitely smile a bit more and relax those shoulders.


I know a lot of people turn to colouring books for this sort of relief, and if you’re one of these go and buy a lovely one by my pal Anastasia Tasou. For me it’s drawing something from scratch thats just for me. I like the satisfaction I feel if i manage to put onto paper the idea I have in my head and have something tangible to show for my efforts. I said just for me because when I started doing commissions a couple of years ago I certainly didn’t find the process relaxing.

Doing my make up.

The important factor here is that it is only relaxing when it’s done in the right conditions. I don’t like to be hurried and I don’t liked to be talked at while I’m doing it. I prefer to sit on my bed with one of my fave morning shows like Frasier in the background, with absolutely nothing to interrupt me. I like to take my time, which isn’t very long these days as I don’t wear much make up anymore. I think having products you enjoy using helps this process to be a relaxing one. The satisfaction of seeing the transformation from pre/post foundation application adds more than a few pleasure points too.

Film Scores.

Music is another subjective one, because I know many people who listen to Heavy music and metal to wind down and it appears to genuinely work. While I definitely think it helps me get through some stressful moments during the day( I love listening to Architects, Machine Head and BMTH when tackling the crowds on the underground) I think for proper chill time or to create a relaxing environment to work in, classical music and more often than not, film scores, tend to me what I turn to. Some of my favourite composers include Hans Zimmer, Aaron Zigman, Craig Armstrong, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Ilan eshkeri, and Peter Vronsky if you wanted to check them out!

A video about some of my faves -

Going out for dinner.

Now that I don’t have to be on my restricted diets all the time, going out for a meal can be relaxing (if it still caters to my personal difficulties a bit). Of course there’s still stress caused by the fear of an IBS attack, but as long as I know I’m going home straight after or that the restaurant has decent facilities I can still gain a lot of pleasure and chill from eating out. Not only does it mean you don’t have to cook or wash up, you get the escape the house which for me is integral as it’s my place of work.

Doggy Cuddles

Signing up for Borrow my Doggy was probably the best thing Si and I did in term of our happiness levels. Rosie the Cockapoo has brought so much joy into our lives since we met her through the website when she was a young puppy two or so years ago. We see her as regaulrly as our conflicting schedules allow, and every time she improved our moods by at  least 50%. With her licks, and unwavering love she manages to lift me out of the deepest of funks.

Getting off Social Media 

A few months ago I decided I wasn't going to watch YouTube videos. I realised any benefits I got from watching them were heavily outweighed by the negative ones. I didn't want to feel crappy that I didn't have money to spend on clothes, that I wasn'y going on holiday for the forseeable future or getting the same amazing opportunities as many of the other YouTubers I watch. I decided I'd only watch video's if I needed to find something out, do research, or if I truly felt it would enrich my life in some real way. I also decided to spend a smaller percentage of my day scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, and I neglected Facebook entirely. Boy, do I feel much better for it. I definitely don't miss all the rants about ex partners or the not so humble brags of people on Facebook. If your not quite ready to take as drastic a step back from social media as me, I would very much reccommend turning off the notifications on your phone and perhaps limiting yourself to a few checks a day. A reduction will still benefit your ability to relax, as I feel like technology often interrupts the flow of chill time. How often are you watching a film and find yourself suddenly stressed because you've read an email or message about work?

Low Maintenance Friends

Spending time with those sorts of friends that don’t make arranging things stressful. The sort that wont care if you haven’t showered or if you come with zero banter that day. The kind of mate that you feel completely comfortable sitting in silence with, but you know you won’t because you’ll feel so relaxed and like you’ve escaped work/home stresses, that you’ll talk their ears off.

So that’s some of the things that work for me. Please share in the comments what things you do, or what techniques you use, to relax and zone out for a bit. Let's help each other combat the intensity of living in these crazy times.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


The insta-famous Frank Body. If you've followed models, hot females, or bloggers over for the last few years there is no doubt in my mind that you will have come across this brand. It is perhaps most well known for it's body scrub which was promoted frequently by influencers, via sexy shots showing their sun-kissed skin being given a much need exfoliation with the product. The brand soon became synonymous with this sun-kissed body-beautiful aesthetic and it was one of the brands to be seen using/promoting the influencer community. 

You associated use of this product with an exotic lifestyle that incorporated a lot of travel, and a year long tan, and quite frankly you(I) wanted to be part of that.  I was totally sucked in and wanted a piece of this coffe infused skin-smoothing action.

A few years older, a bit less vulnerable to savvy branding and a lot more jaded about most things connected to social media,  I need a bit more convincing in regards to the brands that appear to to be much-loved and lauded on Instagram. 

I have to be honest though, even though I have that perspective that only comes with age, I was still quite excited when I got the review package in the post. Part of it was because I knew that once and for all I would finally be able to wake up and smell the coffee and find out if all the love the brand attained online was deserved, or whether it was just people jumping on that appealing and aspitational band-wagon. The other part, the part I'm not proud to admit, is that I finally felt part of the cool insta gang.

First up the packaging is so pretty, and right up my visual alley. I love the brown paper it comes in - that choice of material not only mentally links you to the coffee ingredient but it has those natural connotations too. The combination of the brown paper teamed with that salmon pink and white is feminine without being overly girly - and it looks great in pictures. Having to rip or cut open the paper the bag before you get to the actual product also increases the antiscipation of trying the scrub and balm. There's also some cute text on the back to with sentences like ' Give a little lip and talk dirty, babe' and 'Only Tested on Babes.' The first makes you feel a bit sassy (and I need all the sass I can get) and the latter tells you in a less scientific way that this is a cruelty-free product - yay!

The layout of the rest of information should be a guide for other brands too designing packaging. There's all the information you need without any extra long winded boring stuff. Within a few glances and via some cute illustrations you know where the brand is from (Australia), how to store it (cool and dry) and that it contains nuts. It also details all the ingredients should you want to know for reasons referring to your ethics or your allergies, as well as all the brands social media handles.

First up is the 'sugar, hi'  as they cutely have scribed on the side of the lip scrub container. I love the large and simple logo on the top of this circular pot, you can't help but think of high end brands like Chanel when you see it. 

Like many of the lip scrubs you may have tried prior this, it also utlises the exfoliating powers of sugar grains, and it is very proficiant at filing down any loose or rough bits of lip texture.

There are naturally derived and sustainably sourced ingredients in the form of Coco Caprylate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride as well as it's naturally derived Fragrance. The products aroma is like a sweetened coffee due to a combination of the sucrose, coffea Arabica, Cofee Robusta Seed Powder, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) and Fruit Extract, and it's absolutely amazing. I have to be honest I was tempted to swipe it all on my toast instead of my usual Nutella. It also contains Tocopherol (vitamin E) which is great at helping to heal and soothe damage lips.

With just a few scrubs back and forth my lips felt noticeably smoother, and I very much enjoyed licking it off. After it's always nice to taste the coffee as well as smell it!

At our 'slick service' is the smoothing lip balm which smells just as divine as the scrub.  It's a very thick consistency due to the beeswax, and the lanolin, which is that yellow viscous mixture which is used for the base of a lot of ointments. This firm nature of the product makes its exit from the tube very tidy and efficent, and it makes you feel like you are using something with powerful and longlasting qualities. I've found super thin balms tend to disappear after a few minutes of conversation or with a couple strokes of the tongue. This has some staying power. It's beneficial thickness doesn't hinder your ability to glide it across your lips those, with the combined warmth of your fingers and lips, it instantly creates a pleasingly smooth coverage.

So in short, I loved this set of Aussie lip reviving products.
So Frank...I'm so sorry I was so skeptical, blame the other buzz brands who haven't lived up to the hype. I'm so glad to find that your popularlity was justified, and I can't wait to try out more of your aromatic products. No wonder so many wonderful and beautiful women were proud to endorse you on social media!

Now I've just got to decide which to try of them has to be their iconic Coffe body Scrub doesn't it?? I's time I did one of 'those' shots too.

Here's to a summer of the smoothest skin,  flesh that that will be so touchable it will have the same pulse racing qualities as a cup of coffee. Hope you're ready Si!

The set is for sale on their site for £12.95 and would make a lovely gift!

13 Reasons Why.... the show got it right…..

This isn’t a post to review this much talked about show. In fact a day after finishing the series I’m still not sure what my overriding feelings are towards it. I do know that I found it very hard-going and that it had a very obvious negative effect on my mood. The relentlessly dark thread throughout the 13 episodes meant I had to take regular breaks from it, which is very different to my usual bing watching approach to a Netflix series.’ While I still take some time post-viewing to formulate my opinion, and decide whether I think they should have even put this show online, I did want to talk about some of the elements that the show highlighted that I feel ring very true for young adults and/or people that struggle with mental health issues.

1.The cumulative effect of events, moments and feelings is often what leads to that point of hopelessness and feelings of wanting to give up on life altogether. For some it may be one significant event or battle that has lead to finding oneself in this state, but for many the frequency of negative moments can contribute to a feeling of ‘Maybe I deserve this’, ‘Maybe I’m the problem.’ ,’I’m not sure I fit in with this world’. Some just feel numbed or exhausted by the conveyer belt of negativity.

I know that when I am in a particularly dark phase with my depression that it can be a small moment, one sentence uttered, one tweet posted even, that can tip me over into that worrying area of wanting to give up, or not having the ability of seeing a way out. This is why it’s so important we are mindful of all the interactions we have each and every day.

I was watching a few episodes of the show with someone else, and numerous times throughout the they’d say things like ‘Hannah’s overreacted there’ or ‘whats the big deal’. Completely understanding why the situation was becoming so overwhelming for the main character, I made sure to point out that Hannah was already at a point where she was feeling ostracised, misunderstood, lonely or let down, and that this ‘trivial’ moment was another thing piling on top of that existing vulnerability or source of sadness.

2. There is still a scary amount of misunderstanding about what behaviour/actions constitutes sexual assault, abuse and rape. The fact that some people (including characters in this show) excuse this abhorrent behaviour with comments like, ‘She’s easy’ ‘She was giving me the eye’, ‘We were all drunk’, says a lot about how much education is still necessary in this area not just for kids for adults too. This misunderstanding is undoubtedly contributing to many victims not feeling like they can report the crimes (like Jessica/Hannah), meaning they find it hard to get any sort of closure( if that’s possible anyway) and the attackers are free to continue to commit these crimes.
The arrogance displayed by Bryce is something I’ve seen/witnessed before too. I've sadly known guys that can’t fathom that a girl wouldn’t desire them in that way…

3. Everything slightly bad/embarrassing that happens when you’re a teenager feels like the end of the world. When you’re in school, the people within those boundaries and their views of you and your social standing are what matters the most, it’s the most intense social bubble. If something happens that becomes talk of the school for that day, you believe you or your life has been ruined and that this will continue to impact the success of the rest of your life…which we know in a lot of cases isn’t true. When you're young you don’t have history and experience back up what the adults are telling you, you know, that everything will be forgotten and when you’re older you’ll look back on this and realise it didn’t matter, or that it actually helped you become who you are (in a positive sense).

3. Sadness, guilt or anger can have a huge affect on your behaviour. Clay was a good kid with a kind heart but you saw him become increasingly angry and finding him self in uncharacteristically potty mouthed or in violent situations. Grief has a profound effect, and because Clay took so long to get through the tapes that period of confusion surrounding the suicide was extended and his spiral of depression and lack of control enhanced. I think the show displayed how different people cope with loss and devastation too. Some seemed in complete denial, some sought comfort in finding answers and fighting for justice (Hannahs mum), some wanted to act like nothing had happened, others, like Alex and Clay found it very obviously difficult to live. The character of Justin also points out that often bullies are cultivated by a negative environment at home.

4. You need to make amends to move on. I think Sheri finally ringing the police and reporting her own crime was a good reminder to us all that you have to own what you do (good or bad), and take the consequences. She tried to make amends by looking after the older gentlemen that was injured but you could see she was still struggling to move on knowing that she hadn’t done the right thing. With Clay pushing her to confess you got the impression she’s find herself in a much better place, and that honesty would be the best thing for her in terms of moving forward and finding forgiveness in herself.

5. The people you open up to can have a huge effect on how you face your challenges. There are moments throughout the series when people say flippant things that seem fairly insignificant and banal, but they provide enough ammo to the vulnerable person in question to clam up, retreat and and put that guard firmly up. When Hannah makes the brave decision to visit the counsellor the phone keeps ringing. The he opts for a few perhaps unhelpful questions when trying to discover what event has lead Hannah to visit him. His choice of words/questionings makes Hannah believe that he may not qualify/believe what she was intending to tell him. When a teary Hannah attempts to tell Clay what’s she’s just gone through, he snaps presuming she's making the death of Jeff all about her, and in so makes Hannah believe another channel of comfort has been closed to her. If we are tackling anything emotionally taxing or stressful it can often take a lot of bravery and trust to be able to share that. If someone gives us reason to think they’re not listening, understanding or taking it seriously it can make us go back to internalising .

6.Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is struggling with something. Just because someone’s rich, in the cool gang, or very good looking, it doesn’t mean they hold the ability to avoid any of life struggles or pitfalls, nor does it mean they exist without any insecurities or worries. You saw in the show that popular Jock Zac was extremely lonely. He appeared to have a lot of friends but it appeared to me at least that he lacked those meaningful deeper friendships, the unconditional ones that are based on knowing the core of the person rather than the superficial surface stuff that was always given precedence at school. Another popular Jock, who on the outside may appear to have it all was Justin, who was actually struggling for money and having to rely on the Bryce for new sports shoes as well as a safe place to stay. He was having to deal with a very turbulent home life due to his mums drug habit and her unsavoury choice of partner. I think the show reminds us that appearances can be deceiving and there’s always a lot of layers to make up a being - all contributing to the person they show to to the public.

7. Yes we’ve come a long way in lots of way, including acceptance when it comes to the LGBTQ community, but my word does the news serve as a regular reminder of how far we still have to go. Characters became frustrated with Courtney for not coming out, stating that these days it’s not even a big deal. This is sadly a generalisation which isn’t necessarily true. Coming out for Courtney was difficult because she grew up with two Gay Dads and she thought that it would confirm what a lot of disparaging people had said about her family unit - when she was young theirs was quite a rare family arrangement. How stressful the concept of coming out is to an individual can be due to so many different influences. Where in the world they reside, and how accepting and open they are to different sexualities. What their family or friends views are on it and how they think the news will go down. Where they are in your own acceptance of your sexual preferences. Sadly even what work they may  want to go into and their perception of that industries views on the LGBTQ community may effect how ready/able you feel to come out. I think it's good that they pointed out that despite the giggles and sharing around of the photos of Hannah and Courtney, that none of their friends actually had a problem with either of them being gay.

8. You make mistakes as a teenager, things you’ll regret - this is normal and everyone does it. Alex is one of the only characters featured on the tapes that really owns his mistakes early on, although as the series progresses you see some of the characters start to make amends and work to rectifying some of them in the best way they can. When I was a teen I think I fell into two categories when it came to the bad decisions and mistakes I made. I either beat myself up about the shoddy ones I made, letting them consume me for far too long and effect how open/confident I was moving forward. Or I'd refuse to acknowledge them as my own mistakes, finding blame in others, or thinking that the universe was out to get me. That’s if I’d got to the point of accepting I’d done something wrong. Now as an oldie I realise that it’s entirely necessary to make mistakes in your teens and twenties, as it enables us to evolve and live a bit more wisely when we reach proper adulthood. I wish I could have told my teenage self that mistakes don’t mean I’m a bad person, they just mean I’m human.

9. Communication is so important. There are so many frustrating moments, via the dream /what if sequences where we can see clearly how carefully chosen or just more words could have drastically changed the turn of events and the happiness of the individual. One thing the show really highlights well is that if the characters were more aware of each others unique pressures, worries and situations, they would have created a more empathetic and understanding social circle and school community. They would have understood why each behaved a certain way and in turn chosen not to take it so personally, or done something to make the person realise how their actions impacted them. I felt really sad about the Zac/Hannah situation because it was obvious to me he had just been extremely hurt by Hannah and was acting out of that hurt rather than anything really nasty. He decided to do something fairly risky when choosing comforting her after Marcus’ awful behaviour in the diner, considering it wasn’t siding against the influential Jock crew. I was watching that episode and willing him to keep trying with Hannah and felt really sad when he tore up the letting trap she left - I thought they could have had a nice friendship. Courtney shouldn’t have distanced herself when the pictures leaked of her and Hannah. You could see Hannah wanted to unite and was going to support Courtney, but due to Courtney’s fears regarding being outed she pushed Hannah away. Talking about communication, when you take an overview of the entire series, its obvious that every single character would have had more friendship and love in their lives if they’d been less fearful of communication. It was also interesting when you saw some moments from different points of views. When Clay is talking to Hannah at the party, he says she’s telling it all wrong on the tape. He remembers how awkward and uncool he was when trying to finally woo her, but she remembers how he put her and ease and made her feel comfortable despite being nervous. I think this capture how we shouldn’t be so fearful of talking to others because we people don’t always see you how you see you. Those things you replay in your head and feel mortified about are the things that made that interaction warm and lovely.

10. Unkind use of Social media/technology can be extremely harmful. When the picture of Hannah at the park get sent round the school mobiles, something extremely private and intimate becomes public property. Something which was meant to be fun and actually fairly innocent also becomes sordid and paints an image of Hannah that is very different to the reality. Pictures never tell the true or full story, so they allow people to make assumptions and judgements without the integral ingredient of contextual information. These scenes also highlight how fast these events can snowball. Technology has gifted us with the ability to do everything in an instant, which when put in the wrong hands can be extremely damaging, extremely quickly.

11. Parents don’t always get things right. When we were watching the series we kept squirming at how Clays mum dealt with his obvious deterioration in mental health and behaviour. From our point of view it was glaringly obvious that she was going about things the wrong way, and actually causing Clay not to want to open up. I think it’s a reality that parents find it extremely difficult to deal with some of the issues that arise as a a result of growing up in today’s modern world. They have no idea about social media and the impact it can have, or the pressures it puts on them/us. If they’ve been lucky enough to avoid mental issues themselves, they also don’t know what the right approach to dealing with that is either, often pushing too hard for the teenager to share with them rather than just building a relationship which lets the child know that they are a safe someone they can come to if needed. We can see how unhelpful Zac’s pushy mum’s constant boasting is. When she gushes about his achievements you can tell it doesn’t make him feel any better about himself. He’s looking for something else to give him that feeling of self worth…rewarding and real relationships for example.

12. Loyalties area a big deal in school. Despite the awful things that Bryce did to Jessica, Justin doesn’t feel he can do anything about it due to boy-code, school hierarchy and so on. We saw a lot of relationships suffer due to the betrayal felt due to a lack of loyalty too. When Jess and Alex started dating, ruining the balance of the trio they had with Hannah, you could tell she felt incredibly hurt. When Jess dated Justin, despite what he did to Hannah and Hannah warning her that he was bad that would have effected Hannah’s feeling of worth. Did her friendship or opinion  have any influence at all? She may have thought. Tony was very loyal to Hannah’s final wishes, even when he had doubts about whether it was the right things to do. He also persevered with Clay, turning up ALL TIME TIME to check in with him and see that he was alright.

13. Teenagers/young adults are under so many different pressures these days. In the show you see a few characters discuss where they are going to go for College, Hannah’s decision made a bit more complicated by her deterioration in grades and her parents lack of money to pay for tuition. Not only are they contemplating their future and trying to work out what career path they should take and where to take it, they are juggling with changing bodies, having some of their first romantic relationships, worrying about social standing, finding out who they are and where they fit in. It's a hell of a lot. Add-on top of that rumours, misunderstandings, violence, bullying, technology/social media….it’s not surprising that they feel completely overwhelmed.

So there’s a few themes/topics I think the show caused us to contemplate through the telling of this tragic story. I may be back with another 13 Reasons Why post, which may focus on what the show didn't do right. There’s been a lot of talk about how damaging this show could be for vulnerable viewers and this is something I want to consider, as someone who suffers with mental health and who has previously had suicidal thoughts. I may be back with that if I feel up to it….

Sunday, 16 April 2017


 Here are my crowd shots from last night's amazing You Me at Six gig at Ally Pally. If you want to use any of my photos please credit @sophieeggleton. Thank you!


Friday, 14 April 2017

I'm a blogger not a Model...

When I decided to to take this blogger malarky a bit more seriously, it was coming from a position of wanting to keep up with the times, not wanting to get left behind due to my stubbornness when it came to adapting to the evident changes in the industry. I had been working as a journalist, but could see that opportunities and the formats of work were drastically changing. Many time slots, commission, roles and positions were going to bloggers/influencers which would have previously gone to people working at magazines, newspapers, radio stations and websites.

Even though I decided to give in to and start doing blogger type activities, I could still feel some resistance within me. I couldn’t help but feel empathy towards those (many of my friends) that had grafted in the industry or studied for years in the world of journalism/media, who had been become sidelined because suddenly who they are and their follower count began to play a part in whether they’d get commissioned or be sent to cover event they had always previously reported at. However, I knew that I would shooting myself in the foot if I fought the change, and it wasn’t a fight I was ever going to be win.

So I started to blog more consistently. I’d say at first I stuck to how I’d always done it with little regard towards what was ‘the’ way to blog, the topics I should be focusing or how I could be promoting in the most effective way. But little by little, awareness of the blogging community, the predominance of personal style blogs, and the increase in emphasis on the person behind the words, I could see a change emerge in my content. I started to appear more and more in the content, even though it made me feel very uncomfortable at times. Instead of phone pics of a product, there would be pictures of me wearing or using the product for example. Where words used to be the primary and pivotal part of my uploads, images began to take precedence. 

Years on from that first realisation that I was changing to fit in with the new ways of media, the word blogger and what it me means to be one, has changed significantly. After-all, people that don’t even a have blog, but post pictures of themselves to Instagram also refer to themselves bloggers - they're blogging their life via images and captions rather than the former more lengthy articles.

It’s now also common-place to outsource many of the tasks we used to do ourselves. People are hiring professional  photographers and videographers, leaving themselves with the fairly simple task of putting together an outfit and posting on their platforms, with many barely writing any words to go with their magazine-worthy images. This is happening because people have seen that the images of them and their edited lives, is often what  leads to the opportunities…and money. It’s about being a brand. Getting as many elements of your being as attractive as possible to potential collaborators.

This is fine for those bloggers look great, or who are comfortable in their own skin and in front of the camera. It’s no biggie a for those that are able to post images regularly due to having the right equipment, and access to people to help capture their image. But what about those that cringe at the thought of posting a picture of themselves, and who feel uncomfortable with the idea of being a ‘product.’ What if you’re not someone who has different outfits to post each week? What if you became a blogger because of a talent or love of writing and have no interest in being seen as an ‘insta model’.

We choose career paths for various reasons. Perhaps it’s simply because the work makes us happy. Maybe it’s where our talent or skills lie. It could be because there’s something about the world you want to change. For some it’s what their family have always expected or wanted from them. But sometimes it’s because it’s where we feel most comfortable, it’s a role that doesn’t require us to do things that don’t sit well with us, or mean we veer away from how we wish to live our lives.

When I started writing it was because I felt happy to put my words and experiences out there for people to consume and digest, with the possibility of opening up helpful debate. There are reasons I didn’t go down certain other career paths, the ones which would obviously call for some sort of judgement on my outer shell. I’ve never been hugely confident about the way, but I’ve never really put much value on the vessel and I’d never want to promote the idea that the world perhaps does.

But due to the developments (depends how you look at it) in the media world, many writers who felt comfortable in relative anonymity typing into their Mac’s, are now feeling forced to become amateur models (very amateur in my case) in the hope to stay in the running for paid work. Many jobs seem to be offered with a few factors considered.  which predominantly seems to be offered according to a combination of factors including sub/followers, what you look like, and whether the look fits with the brand. 

I know what you’re thinking. You can think of loads of successful bloggers that don’t post loads of selfies and outfit posts, who have built a successful following and career with an emphasis on their writing/opinions. Me too, but the problem lies when you are yet to find your place in the industry, the area or type of blogging that you shine in, and area that people recognise and respect you for. If you haven’t got yourself to a position where you have a regular and reliable stream of income coming in, or carved a niche our for yourself that sustains your ability to live, you don’t want to limit your opportunities in anyway by restricting the type of content you put out. If I decided to stop putting outfits up or showing myself on me feeds I am automatically putting myself out of the running in terms of working with lots of fashion/beauty brands, which I just can’t afford to do right now. Unfortunately if your blog focuses on issues like mental health it doesn’t easily translate to paid opportunities and sponsorship.

So what I’m saying is, with bloggers used in place of models in adverts and on the packaging we can't deny that looks are playing a big part in our success and how appealing we are to many of the people that could potentially contribute toward our income.

I can’t help but worry that we have started to neglect quality writing and the bloggers who put out fantastically moving, articulate, opinionated, enlightening posts, who happen not to like to put their image online, or who don't have the means to. The fact that I get numerous emails from PR’s a day with already written blog posts, asking if I’d copy and paste them on my platform, goes some way to prove that there has definitely been a shift away from words in this industry. 

Of course there are oodles of brilliant bloggers who write fantastic posts, and are an integral part of the team that create the wonderful images they post, so good imagery and quality writing doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. But I do worry that many consumer/fashion brands tend to look more to the visual content, and the blogger’s marketability in terms of their appearance.
(I would like to point out though that have been warmed by the fact that a lot of PR’s in the film sector are thinking more intelligently about who they partner with, focusing less on numbers and looks, and more about work ethic and a genuine interest in the product.)

This lengthy scribe isn’t to express that I’m anti those purely visual ‘bloggers’ - not at all. After-all for some people writing doesn’t flow easily, or it’s simply not something they enjoy doing. They may prefer the styling side of blogging, the capturing of visuals or they may simply be hugely passionate about beauty, fashion, homeware, travel etc and enjoy having somewhere to display that, with the added bonus of communicating to people via the internet. 

I guess I wanted to write the post for a few main reasons. The first is to point out that the fact that many people look at bloggers as clothes-horses, people that are meant to be both aspirational and attractive, and this is something that doesn’t feel comfortable or natural for everyone. This shift is forcing many lovers of the written word to feel vulnerable and having to push a side of their being (their looks) that they never had a desire to promote. I wanted to pose that question that could we potentially be risking the loss of communication via writing, if we (brands/pr/bloggers/readers) are enhancing the existing notion that people want that instant fix via a few seconds of glancing at an image on Instagram. Could we be pushing out those beautiful, funny, or  provoking thought provoking blog posts. 

And finally. Are we also inadvertently telling the impressionable people viewing our feeds that image is what counts, way over substance.Through posting the type of content  we believe will put ourselves in prime sponsorship deal position, are we telling them that looks are what counts, and focusing on them will give you success, fame and fortune??

As always I feel the need to remind that this post isn’t about throwing shade on a section or type of blogger. Not one bit, I promise you. This is about reminding us all that we need and must try to constantly ask questions about where this is all going.

How many times have people uttered sentences like ‘We should have thought things through first then we wouldn’t be in this mess’. If we all individually take time to check ourselves and the way we function in this industry, it’s gotta help us to avoid some future pitfalls this crazy modern world is leading us towards. 

So for now, you'll see me carry on attempting to pose on the most instagram friendly backdrops I can find in Surrey. But please know that I still believe worth lies beneath the surface, but also know that I  need money to eat. 

This is business after-all. 

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