I've Been Watching #7

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Warning - this post is mainly going to be me, fangirling about Orphan Black. Keeping it good and spoiler free though, nothing you wouldn't know from seeing posters or trailers for the first season.

This week has been a mixed bag. I've fallen behind a little bit with The 100, so I'll need to catch up with that when I have time, and I've watched a couple more episodes of New Girl Season 3. I hate hate hate admitting this, but I'm just not as in love with New Girl as I used to be. The first and second seasons are amazing, and The Landlord (S1E12) is one of my favourite episodes of anything ever. I was so excited about season 3 after the way season 2 ended, but for me, it's just gone a bit too OTT. Having said that, the sixth episode (Keaton) felt like the old New Girl!


I was in a documentary sort of mood last week, so I searched through every last one on Netflix and developed a sort of shortlist. In the end, I went for Connected - the tag line of which reads 'An autoblogography about love, death and technology'. This is a film from Tiffany Shlain exploring the interconnectedness of just about everything and everyone on the planet - something that genuinely interests me. Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, so I was a bit surprised when I read a lot of negative reviews of it after I watched it. A lot of people felt the film ended up being about nothing, but I disagree. It doesn't solve any of the questions it sets out to ask, but I don't think that was the point. If you go into it with the knowledge that the autobiographical aspect of it is a huge part of the overall documentary, and watch it with an open mind, it's a really touching look at a woman's relationship with her father, and the fact he always encouraged her to be curious, think big, and study and investigate the world around her. Technology is all around us, and it has made the world we live in virtually unrecognisable to the world people lived in even just a few years ago, Tiffany's wish that we could harness that connectivity and use it to fix some of the huge problems the world is facing really resonated with me - I feel like the overwhelming response to Robin Williams's death on twitter really highlighted that to me last week. If you're looking for something that sticks to the technology aspect then you'll be disappointed, because the family side of it wins out in the end, but that suited me just fine. I am now desperate to read a couple of books by Tiffany's father, Leonard Shlain - The Alphabet versus The Goddess sounds fascinating.

Orphan Black - Season 1

*Deep breath...*

Okay. Last week I finally sat down to watch the first episode of Orphan Black. I had heard people raving about it on twitter, but not to an OITNB or Breaking Bad degree, so I actually didn't know a huge amount about it when I put on that pilot episode. A few days later and I have binge watched the first season (in fairness, that's only ten episodes!), and I CANNOT WAIT to find out what happens next.

The premise is something that's either going to hook you, or it isn't. Our main character Sarah, who hasn't had the easiest time of it, is standing on the platform of a train station, and looks on in horror as a woman she doesn't know, but who looks exactly like her (we're talking the most identical of identical twins similar) throws herself in front of a train. This was enough to get me intrigued. Sarah is played by Tatiana Maslynav, an actress I recognised from one of my all-time favourite shows, Being Erica. It was only after I'd watched two or three episodes that I noticed that the executive producers of Orphan Black are the EPs of Being Erica - no wonder I'm loving it. I don't want to give too much away here because I hate reading spoilers myself, but it would be ludicrous of me to not praise Maslynav to the max for what she's doing here - she is playing several characters in this show, and she is doing an absolutely incredible job. During the first episode I was a tiny bit put off by her British accent - to her credit, it isn't the generic super-posh English that most people attempt, but it bugged me a little bit during that first episode. By now though, I'm completely used to it, and I just can't get over what an amazing opportunity this must have been for her. This is not a show, or a role, that comes up every day, and from the get go she had me forgetting that it was her playing every character. They all have such distinct mannerisms and body language and voices that it never once occurs to me that it is her every time. The characters are all really interesting and complex, and she deserves so much credit for this.

Moving on from the acting, the storyline is gripping. It's described as sci-fi but to be honest I think that's purely to give it a label, I don't feel like I'm watching a sci-fi show when I'm watching it. It's intense, and definitely a thriller, but mostly it's grounded in just exploring people and how they react to their world being turned upside down. It's totally my cup of tea and I really would urge you to go ahead and watch it, because it's just about the best new thing I've watched in a while.

*...and exhale*

That's it for today! Thanks so much for reading guys, and be sure to let me know if you've watched either of the above - I'd love to know what you thought!

Insta-Update #2

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Gill's Leaving Night / Commonwealth Games / Fancy Looking Cider
Barry M Sugar Apple / Barry M Mini-Haul / Barry M Waikiki
Eyeliner Art / Girls Night In / Meerkat Family

My pal Gill moved to London a few weeks ago for a new job, so we had a wee night out to celebrate - this involved cider in fancy glasses and dancing till 2am.

The Commonwealth Games came to Glasgow and they were amazing. Sadly I didn't actually go to any of the events, but I watched it unfold on TV and the buzz around the city was incredible. It made me really proud of where I come from. Not that I wasn't already!

I love Barry M - that is all. I did an updated Barry M collection video recently if that kind of thing interests you!

A bit of eyeliner art always soothes me, as bizarre as that sounds. I was recently thinking about what I'd do if someone told me I could only ever use two makeup products for the rest of my life (shock horror) and I really do think it would be concealer and liquid eyeliner. Everything else would have to go.

I had a lovely girls night in with three of my besties recently, where we ate too much food, laughed too much and watched Frozen. Pretty perfect, if you ask me.

We got a new member of our ever-expanding meerkat family - welcome to the gang Yakov :)

TGI Friday's Blogger Event / Strawberry Daiquiri / Party Party Photo App
Sanitise at the Edinburgh Fringe / RIP Robin Williams / Pizza Time
Hair Colour Booth app / Dissertation Organisation / Smokey Purple Eye Makeup

A few of us went along to a blogger event at TGI Friday's a couple of weeks ago and I enjoyed an amazing Strawberry Daiquiri the size of my head, and a cheeseburger (what a surprise).

I've become addicted to the Party Party Photo App lately - in particular, the little stop-motion videos you can make on there are brilliant, but the little collages are great too.

Iona, Lynne, Gillian, Laura and I went for dinner and then headed to see Sanitise at the Edinburgh Fringe last week. I would definitely recommend going to see it if you get a chance while it's still on!

The impact of Robin Williams's death on what seemed like everyone really blew me away. It's so sad, and I hope that his passing encourages more of an open conversation about depression. It just shows, you never know what struggles someone might be facing.

My friend Gemma (who has just started a new blog - check it out here!) and I went for dinner in Bunker recently and I had a pulled pork pizza with barbecue sauce. And yes, it was as good as it sounds!!

Another app I love to revisit from time to time is Hair Colour Booth - not only do I like to see what I'd look like with a variety of hair colours, I also decided to give blue eyes a go. It really doesn't look like me!

Just over a week until the dissertation goes in now - where on earth has the summer gone?!! I've moaned about this from time to time, but really I've loved it. I'm studying something that really, genuinely interests me and collecting and analysing my own data has made me feel like a proper researcher. What a big academic geek I am.

And finally, a selfie to show off some smokey purple eye makeup I was wearing last weekend. Not much more to say about that!

That's it for my little instagram update! Other than that, the past few weeks have involved celebrating Emma's 25th birthday, job hunting woes and binge watching Orphan Black. Hope you are all well!

Thanks for reading!

I've Been Watching #6

Sunday, 10 August 2014

All films and no tv this week - who am I?! This week I've been reliving my youth and embracing my love for chick flicks - although one film in the above collage certainly didn't fit into that category as much as I had expected it to. So let's revisit my viewing material from the past week...

The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2 - Royal Engagement

I was worryingly excited when I realised that The Princess Diaries (one of my favourite childhood films) and the sequel are both on Netflix, - I had only ever seen the second film once, so I embraced the opportunity for a double bill. My memory did not serve me too well, however, as I seemed to think I hadn't particularly enjoyed the sequel - this time around I loved it.

There's something dangerous about watching your favourite childhood films after going years without seeing them, because while some live up to the fond memories, others let you down. The rose tinted glasses you have on when you remember your favourite kids show or movie can make watching them disappointing, because you're now watching them in a totally different context, and through adult eyes. Much to my relief, this was not one of those occasions! I totally related to Mia as a teen, being the shy, incapable of talking to the opposite sex type, and I think every little girl dreamed of having that princess makeover. When I was watching it, half way through I found myself thinking "is this a really terrible representation of growing up, telling a young girl that if she's a bit awkward and geeky, with tough to tame hair and glasses she's not good enough to be a princess?". But as it progressed, I remembered that the whole point of the film is that through this transitional period Mia learns that the most important thing is to be herself, an important life lesson for anyone. Also, it might just have the most perfect ending to a teen/preteen movie ever; the soundtrack, the dress, the ball, the kiss... perfection. I'm 25 and I can quite honestly say, I'd still kill for a night like that. Escapism at its best.

The second film was so much better than I had remembered! I also forgot that a very youthful Chris Pine starred opposite Anne Hathaway this time around. Mia's ready to take her place as queen of Genovia, but an outdated, sexist law that states a woman can only be crowned queen after she is married gets in the way. Cue the search for a husband and plans for an arranged marriage. As an avid fan of the books, I think the second film bothered me because they split Mia and Michael up, and at the time I was not okay with that. With some distance from the situation, however, I can appreciate that the film was a perfect example of what it is - a daft, romantic sequel to a story about a girl who grows up feeling like a nobody and discovers she's a princess. It's cute, it's funny and it passes a couple of hours quite nicely. Once again I was loving the music over the credits at the end, and horrified myself when I discovered that the track I was dancing around to was by none other than Lindsay Lohan - but I know you guys won't tell anyone...

Beauty and the Briefcase

Ohhh dear. I never thought there would be a romantic comedy that would defeat me - I constantly defend this genre, and I can usually sit through even the cheesiest, most over the top romcoms without wanting to switch them off, but this almost got the better of me! Beauty and the Briefcase (an ABC original movie which is now available on Netflix), stars Hilary Duff as Lane, a wannabe journalist looking for love and her dream job at Cosmo magazine amongst the buzz of New York. You'd think it was just like any other run of the mill romcom, right? Well, it is, except that it is really, really terrible. In terms of other movies, one I'd say it's most akin to is Confessions of a Shopaholic, except that I actually liked Confessions of a Shopaholic; Isla Fisher was likeable, and the story was daft but made sense. I hate saying this because much like The Princess Diaries, I actually only put this on because I liked Hilary Duff when I was a child, but I'd be lying if I say there weren't a myriad of things that bothered me about this film. The acting was poor, the structure was dreadful (more on that in a second) and do not even get me started about the bizarre sexism - a feminist critic would have a field day with this one. I lost count of the number of shots of Lane as the "only girl in an office full of men", who are leaning out of their cubicles with their tongues hanging out of their mouths, getting distracted from their important, businessman work by her tight skirt, while the two or three other women in the office might as well be wearing bin bags. Because, y'know, if you're a woman in the business world you're probably uptight, unfashionable and unfanciable.

In order to avoid spoilers, I won't bother with specifics when it comes to structure, but all I'll say is that for a film that lasts an hour and twenty five minutes, this one wasted a disproportionate amount of time on the wrong storyline. Most films have a beginning, a middle and an end, and this one seemed to have an incredibly long middle, with a rushed end tagged on without much thought having been given to it. But that's just my opinion, I'm sure there are plenty of people who did enjoy it, so if you love a cheesy romcom, it's always worth watching the first ten minutes to see what you think!

Thanks for Sharing

And the surprise of the year goes to... Thanks for Sharing! This film genuinely surprised and impressed me. I went in with an already formed opinion, which is never the way to go! I knew it was a film in which Mark Ruffalo plays a recovering sex addict named Adam - from The Princess Diaries to this, talk about genre hopping - and I knew that Pink was in it. I had decided it would be one of those comedies that uses something controversial (sex addiction, in this case), to make people talk about it, and it would probably end up with a couple of couples falling in love, and a few awkward laughs at the expense of Adam et als' "lack of control". It really wasn't. It kind of reminded me of Friends with Kids - one of those films you go in expecting to spend two hours laughing at, but in fact find that it has a much darker undertone than you were expecting. I doubt it's going to be nominated for an Oscar any time soon, but I actually feel like this did a good job of highlighting the genuine, daily struggle of an addict, whatever they're addicted to. There are some pretty disturbing moments in it - again, I want to leave this spoiler free, but if you've seen it I'm sure you know what scene I'm referring to! I was also pretty impressed with Pink/Alecia Moore. While she doesn't get a huge amount of screen time, her very first scene was acted really, really nicely. I'm giving this one a big thumbs up as something that genuinely surprised me, and it's definitely something to check out. I wasn't really a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow's character, which was a pity because it put a bit of a dampener on that particular storyline for me, but otherwise this is worth a watch.

Now I must go and get on with my dissertation, but I do hope that you enjoyed that, and be sure to let me know if you've seen any of the above! Thanks for reading!

Top 10 Websites to Brighten Your Day!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

I'm the first to admit, there are a lot of bad things about the internet. Trolls, twitter fights, the ability to stalk ex-boyfriends/girlfriends/pals etc when life would be oh so much easier if that wasn't an option. However, there are also some really brilliant things about it. So I thought I'd do a little list of ten places on the internet that I turn to if I'm having a bad day! Most of them probably won't be new to you, but if any of them are, I hope they succeed in brightening up your day too!

The brain child of a team which includes the lovely Zooey Deschanel, HelloGiggles is my favourite website. It's a little internet haven that includes beauty and fashion chat, but does not exclusively revolve around those topics. Over there they talk feminism, film and television, books, life decisions, career, sex and relationships, body image... the list goes on! There is an article to suit my every mood, whether it's a link to a cute cat video somewhere on YouTube, or a deep and meaningful post all about the struggles to find a job/a partner/your own identity. It's a wonderful mish-mash of articles written by regular and guest contributors, who all feel very much like they are on the same wave length - trying to create a corner of the internet in which they encourage women to be confident and be themselves.

As a self confessed television addict and film lover, Honest Trailers (from Screen Junkies) is one of my favourite YouTube channels (and that is saying something!). The concept is pretty self-explanatory - they take famous movies, often from recommendations they get regularly in the comments on their videos, and create "honest trailers" for them. This usually involves pointing out all of the flaws in the film, from poor acting to confusing plot lines and terrible scripts. It never fails to cheer me up - particularly the trailers for all five (were there really five?!) Twilight films. They are excellent. [view my favourite Honest Trailer here!]

Pinterest - Quotes Tag

I love browsing through the quotes tag on Pinterest. If I'm ever having a bit of a down moment, or feeling a bit negative, reading through the inspiring quotes posted there always makes me feel a bit brighter. I think it helps when they have a pretty background too - it sounds so silly, but a really beautiful image with an inspiring quote over it never fails to cheer me up! [click here to see my own Pinterest Quotes board!]

I couldn't not include Buzzfeed in this list, could I?! I could easily lose a day of my life to Buzzfeed - it's ridiculous. I've lost count of the number of times I have laughed till I have cried at posts on there. It actually happened the other day, with this post of 17 Hilariously Inappropriate Movie Marquees; I was in the library (on a break from dissertation) and I literally cried reading it.

For an instant, 140 character pick me up, my go-to is the Very British Problems twitter account (@SoVeryBritish). I know there's a Tumblr and now a book of this, but the twitter version is my favourite twitter account (and again, that's saying something!). I doubt this would work unless you are from the UK, but it always makes me laugh - these observations are spot on. From "Finding someone standing in front of your desired sandwich, so pretending to study a pasta salad until they leave." to "Debating whether to open the bus window or just quietly succumb to heatstroke", it cheers me up every time.

I only discovered Bored Panda earlier this year, thanks to a couple of friends from uni who recommended it! It's sort of like a less commerical Buzzfeed if that makes any sense at all? My favourite posts involve beautiful photographs or art work - it has a very cool, artsy vibe. This site completely enables my wanderlust as it so often features stunning photos of beautiful parts of the world just waiting to be explored! Here's an example of a gorgeous collection of photos of "Tiny Humans Lost in the Majesty of Nature".

This is a mashup channel on YouTube, and anyone who knows me will tell you I love a good mashup. This guy is amazing, and he uploads new videos on pretty much a weekly basis. I think people probably get bored of my regular "listen to this amazing mashup of X and Y" posts on Facebook, but 90% of the time they have been made by this guy, and they are almost always perfect! A good mashup always cheers me up. [This is my current favourite]

I'm going to let you in on a secret - one of my geekiest little pastimes is doing geography quizzes on Sporcle. If I'm fed up and looking for a way to kill fifteen minutes, I will sit and name the countries of the world (all 197 on the occasions that I manage to remember all 197) till my heart's content. Or the 50 states. Or my recent favourite "Click the listed landforms in order according to the following repeated pattern: Mountain, River, Island, River"... I still haven't quite managed to get 100% on that one yet, but it will not defeat me. The site, however, has quizzes on everything from television and books, to science and sports, to baby names. Seriously. There's a quiz for everything on there.

A paid for service, I know, but nothing beats settling down at the end of a long day of work/uni/college/school/job hunting and getting all cosy in your bed with a cup of tea and an episode (or three) of whatever show you are devouring at the time. And you don't even have to go and find the next episode - Netflix thoughtfully just puts it on for you ;)

This one is very dependent on your sense of humour, but Stuart Heritage is right up my street. He talks films, tv and music over on The Guardian, and while his recent reviews of 24: Live Another Day were amazing, nothing will beat his X-Factor Live Blogs for me. Seriously, I get sad when the X-Factor finishes each year because it means I won't have the joy of reading his hilarious running commentary on a weekly basis. His love for Wagner will never wane, much like my love for his articles. [here's an example of a hilarious X-Factor Live Blog. I picked this one completely at random and was already laughing reading it after about a thirty seconds]

So there you have it - ten ways to cheer yourself up via the internet! I hope this put a smile on some of your faces, since they are all guaranteed to do that for me :)

What are some of your favourite corners of the internet?

Thanks for reading!

Job Hunting: Expectations v Reality

Friday, 1 August 2014

Technically I'm still a student (until November), but I might as well be a graduate now. My dissertation is all I have left work wise, and I haven't had classes/assessments since the beginning of May - I have also been a graduate before, so I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this particular subject! Finishing your degree, which has been such a huge part of your life, and starting the job hunt is not exactly the most fun you'll ever have. I've read a few brilliant ''unemployed graduate'' blogposts recently (check out the lovely Laura's posts here!) and it inspired me to write one of my own! So here, in no particular order, are six things that happen when you are a job hunting graduate, followed up with a healthy dose of motivational advice!

The Application Process

Expectation - It's another day. As you click that "refresh search button" on the various job listing sites, your brain whispers "today there will be a well paid job in my desired location, with a job description that reads like a transcript of my CV".

Reality - There is never a well paid job in your desired location with a job description that reads like a transcript of your CV. Unless you have the money to move to London, pickings are slim. The jobs listed are also exactly the same ones you trawled through yesterday.

The Follow Up Process:

Expectation - You apply for a job, and clear your schedule for the following week to free up time for your interview!

Reality - You become concerned that your inbox might not be working properly, given that you applied for several jobs over the past couple of weeks and not one of them has so much as sent you a rejection email.


Expectation - Well, at least with all this free time you can get into a good new exercise regime, try out that sport or exercise class you've always wanted, and finally start your new career with a healthier lifestyle. All that time spent hunched over a computer in the library wasn't good for your body.

Reality - The cheapest Yoga class you can find is £6 a session. You do not have a job. Yoga will have to wait.

Rediscovering old passions:

Expectation - Again, with all this free time on your hands, you'll FINALLY get around to reading all those classic works of literature that have been on your to-read list since the dawn of time. After months (possibly years) of only having time to read books for uni, this will be bliss.

Reality - You will lose several days of your life to a Netflix binge, but at least you can join in with the water-cooler chat (in that job that surely is just around the corner) now that you know what's been going on in Orange is the New Black. And The Office. And House of Cards...

Sleeping Pattern:

Expectation - You will get up bright and early and be incredibly productive, and unlike while you were working on your assessments and life felt a bit too much like Groundhog Day, each day has the potential to be new, different and exciting.

Reality - You will sleep in, having contemplated getting up when your alarm went off at 8am, but deciding that the excitement of searching through the same lists of jobs you looked through yesterday and the day before, and checking your inbox for the non-existent acknowledgement of your previous applications can probably wait a couple of hours. This then results in your entire concept of time becoming distorted and your view of what ''late at night'' actually is shifting. Your Facebook chat list at 2am is indicative of who is in a similar situation in their life.

Social Life

Expectation - Finally you will stop boring your friends with your incessant uni related chat, hooray!

Reality - You will yearn for the days when you could at least debrief with your friends about what happened in today's seminar, because some of them have actual jobs to talk about. You also suddenly find yourself with an unexpected vendetta against anyone (even your closest family and friends who you love dearly) who got a job straight out of uni and didn't have to endure this horrific limbo, because they will never understand this soul destroying process.

Obviously the above is a jokey way of dealing with it, but the fact of the matter is that job hunting really can be a soul destroying process. It's incredibly difficult not to get frustrated when you don't get as much as a "thanks for your application, but we've gone with another candidate", never mind an interview 95% of the time - it's nothing personal, it's just that when a company gets 400 applications for one position, they're unlikely to have time to respond to every last applicant. When you've worked hard to get to the point of graduating, it's easy to attempt to block out what happens afterwards - I know I did the first time around. Having been here before, I know how rubbish it is. You start to feel like you're letting yourself and people around you down, despite the fact you've just worked your ass off for your degree. You panic about when on earth you're ever going to manage to be a "proper grown up". Friends who have already moved out of home and are working full time tell you it's not always all it's cracked up to be, and while you know that is probably true, the desire to feel like you're moving forward in your life is overpowering.

The only thing you can do, as difficult as it is, is try to stay positive. Find things to do that improve your day - I'm vlogging all the time at the moment, because not only is it something I really love to do, but it makes me feel productive. Editing my videos, finding new little tricks to use with iMovie, and improving my skills with that makes me happy. So whether it's a blog, YouTube videos, or something completely unrelated, find something to keep you motivated. Also, spend time with your friends. I know I mentioned the green eyed monster that can arise when you are out and about with people who are already employed, but shutting yourself off from people won't make this process any easier! So go out and have a cheap drink and a chat with your pals - it makes the world of difference!

And finally, don't give up. Keep on applying, and something will eventually come along, as hard as that is to believe sometimes. It might take longer than you were hoping for - in fact, that's pretty much a definite - but it will. It might not be your dream job, but it's a start, and a stepping stone to something bigger and better. One day you'll look back on this horrible time and realise that in a weird way it made you stronger. It will make you really, truly appreciate it when you get a job and feel like a valued employee. Or who knows, over this time you might come up with a business idea of your own!

So chin up graduates, we're all in the same boat and while it's easy to see each other as competition, we should try to rejoice when someone actually succeeds in getting a job - it means there's hope for the rest of us yet!

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Images sourced on pinterest: one, two, three four

I've Been Watching #5

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Welcome back to another I've Been Watching :) I'm still completely addicted to Once Upon a Time, but in the interests of keeping these posts fresh, interesting and not full of "I'm-in-love-with-Captain-Hook-how-can-a-pirate-be-so-attractive" chat, I'll simply say Season 3 is utterly compelling viewing. It really is. Now, on with the update...

The 100

Pronounced "the hundred", just so you know, this is a show from US Network "The CW", where many of my favourite shows of all time have come from; it has now, however, been picked up by E4 and airs on a Monday evening (and is available on 4OD). In terms of genre, this tends to be what you might call the YA channel, only, much like all areas from music to movies to literature, YA has become a bit of a grey area, where the age at which it is initially aimed often has little bearing on the actual audience demographics. I'm a big fan of teen television, and will always defend it to people who dismiss it as nonsense (and trust me, I've heard that plenty times before). Anyway, The 100 is jumping on the Hunger Games/Divergent/youths in a dystopian future bandwagon, and again is based on a book of the same name. It explores a post-apocalyptic world, where planet earth has been rendered uninhabitable following a nuclear war, and the remains of the human race have lived on space stations for the past century. The pilot episode sees 100 "juvenile delinquent" types, (who have been imprisoned on the stations for a variety of crimes), sent down to earth to find out if earth has recovered enough for them to return to, with time and resources running out to keep the space stations going. The lead character, Clarke, is played by Eliza Taylor (anyone remember Janae from Neighbours?!) and I've been really impressed with her so far, while Henry Ian Cusick who plays my beloved Desmond in Lost also stars. The story is gripping and it's really nicely shot - there have been a couple of stunning scenes in the forest so far. We're only three episodes in and it's already incredibly creepy, with life on the 'uninhabited' planet earth proving to be a bit more complicated than anyone had expected. Definitely one to watch!

Not Another Happy Ending

Henry Ian Cusick makes another appearance in this 2013 rom-com set in Glasgow. Starring Cusick, the lovely Karen Gillan and Stanley Weber (amongst others), I desperately wanted to love this film - so much of it is shot in and around Merchant City in Glasgow. But honestly? I just didn't. I'm not actually sure what I thought of it. I found my concentration lapsing at a few points, because it just didn't grip me, and while I love Karen Gillan, I felt like her character wasn't quite developed enough for me to properly care about. When it comes to anything film and tv related, I'm all about character, and I just didn't really connect on this occasion. The premise was interesting - Gillan plays an author named Jane Lockhart, and the film explores her complicated relationship with her editor and publisher Tom (Weber), who believes she is unable to write when she's happy. It's a strange little film, and I think it probably had a lot of potential, but I wonder if the casting is what let it down? I'm not sure. If you've seen it and you liked it, or didn't like it, let me know!

Leesha Vlogs

I never tend to put YouTubers in these posts, and keep it mainly film and TV related, but over the past few months I've found myself totally addicted to Leesha's vlog channel - if you're into beauty on YouTube you might know her more from her main channel X-Sparkage. Last month she gave birth to her gorgeous baby girl Violet, and I've been following her and her partner Paul on this channel throughout the pregnancy. Her vlogs are just so chilled out and relaxed, and kind of what I want to make my vlogs like, if I continue daily vlogging for any length of time! Just now it's mainly about spending time with the baby, and getting used to parenthood, but for whatever reason I just find watching her videos so therapeutic. She just seems like the kind of person you'd want to be friends with, and I love getting a little glimpse into her day to day life - the wonders of YouTube!

So that's it for another edition of "I've Been Watching"! Hope you enjoyed that, and hope you're all having a great weekend!

Just as a sidenote, connected to something I mentioned earlier, I'm daily vlogging over on my YouTube Channel at the moment! If you fancy watching me endure the joys of dissertation work, job hunting, and see the buzz around Glasgow from the Commonwealth Games, pop over and check it out :)

Thanks for reading!

On Makeup

Monday, 21 July 2014

Much like my On Feminism post, this is something I've actually wanted to write for a while, but have put off because I've never quite managed to get the wording right. A little disclaimer before we get started - this is an extremely subjective post, all coming from my own personal experience!

I was listening to Colbie Caillat's new single "Try" this weekend, and watching the highly praised video. It really is a beautiful song and video, and a lovely idea. But part of it links into something which bothers me, and has done so for a long time. The notion that women could only ever wear make-up to impress other people. Namely, men.

In the age of photoshop and celeb culture, body image issues are all around us. The "perfect" body shape, the "perfect" face. Diets and exercise regimes and juice cleanses, plastic surgery to alter your body to what it "should" look like. Treatments to "fix" your hair. Anti-aging products, fake tans and hair removal treatments, diet pills and lip-plumping glosses.

The world is a hot-bed of insecurity and for women, it is particularly difficult. From such an early age you are fed ideas of beauty, and what constitutes beautiful - what size and what shape. Taught to cover up blemishes and create an image of perfection. Something that men are rarely exposed to because make-up is "girly", so men couldn't possibly want to wear it - a subject I don't feel I have the authority to write on what with not being a man myself, but something I think definitely deserves more of a discussion.

As someone with pretty strong feminist views, it goes without saying that this is something that I hate, and wish we could find a way to change. I'm excited to say that I genuinely feel like the body confidence movement has taken a small but positive step forward this year (check out the Body Confidence Revolution - led by Leyah Shanks - on twitter). However, lately there has been an influx of conversations around "taking your make-up off". From the make-up-free selfie to raise awareness for breast cancer - which was a wonderful idea in that it did in fact help to raise money - to the song I mentioned at the start of this post. The persistent implication, however, is that wearing make-up is something women only do to impress other people, and attract men. The irony in that is that half the time we hear men saying they prefer the natural look. I'm glad we are talking about this because so many people out there feel completely unnecessary pressure to conform to a certain ideal, with make-up playing a huge part in that. But for me, the way we are going about resolving this issue is problematic. Having someone tell me I shouldn't wear make-up, even with the best of intentions, annoys me just as much as someone telling me I should. I think whether I do or not should be up to me, and I'd like to think I won't be judged either way.

It's pretty obvious that I love make-up. I took a make-up artistry course after uni, and have obsessed over beauty blogs and YouTube channels for over five years now. All my life, the idea of make-up has excited me, and luckily I was born in that blissful period before the internet, when kids were allowed to be kids and weren't subjected to a barrage of body image messages from pre-school age. Although I didn't properly start wearing it until my mid-teens, as a tiny child I used to "do my mum's make-up" for her. That usually involved putting bright green eye-make-up on her, and drawing flowers and hearts in eyeshadow on her face. But I loved seeing what I could create, even at that age.

Since then, I grew up a bit, and rather than doodling daisys, I started seeing what I could actually do with make-up. The tricks of the trade - contouring my eyes or cheeks, getting that eyeliner flick just right. Finding the perfect lip colour to go with my blusher. To someone with no interest in the creative side of make-up, that just sounds sad, I know that. But when we live in a world where every time you turn on the news you learn about another horrific atrocity somewhere in the world, whether it's a sexual assault in Glasgow, or the devastation in Gaza, the world is a bit of a dark place these days. So if experimenting with make-up helps me have some fun and feel positive, you bet I'm going to do it.

I can only speak for myself, because make-up is an extremely personal thing. I absolutely hate the thought of young girls - in fact, women of any age - feeling that they aren't beautiful without make-up, or that they have to wear it to be accepted. You should never wear anything, be it clothes or make-up, that you aren't comfortable with. When I get up in the morning and go through my make-up routine, the only person I'm doing it for is myself. The kick I get out of my eyeliner actually perfectly matching on both eyes. The lift it gives me, taking me from the sleepy, not-at-all-a-morning-person, to someone ready to face the day. It's something I love to do. Does it boost my confidence? Absolutely. I have far from perfect skin, and the transformation I feel when going from bare-faced to "made-up" for lack of a better term, is phenomenal. But it's phenomenal for me, and me alone. It's a confidence booster, a mood lifter, a part of my routine which makes me feel good. It makes me feel creative - deciding what colour palette to work from, and changing up my lip colour from nude to bold from one day to the next. When it comes right down to it, make-up is fun, and that's why I love it.

Do I go out of the house make-up free? Honestly? Hardly ever. But I don't think that is a reflection of my self-esteem. If I hated every minute of putting make-up on, if I dreaded taking that foundation out of the drawer and taking the fifteen minutes out of my day to do my make-up, but did it anyway, then I would start to worry. Then, I might feel like I was doing it for someone else's benefit. Our society and "make-up free celeb" paparazzi shots, combined with our insecurities can trick us into thinking the moment we step outside make-up-less, everyone will notice us. But when was the last time you walked down the street, or sat on the train, and pointed out every make-up free woman you saw to your friends? When was the last time you even actually noticed a make-up free woman? If you feel like putting makeup on is a chore, and you simply cannot wait for lazy days in the house when you can go makeup free, if make-up doesn't lift your mood and bring you joy, you'll eventually find the confidence to stop wearing it every day. Because no-one should waste precious moments of their day doing something they don't have to because they're afraid they'll be judged if they don't.

But I don't feel that way. I know I don't have to wear make-up, I just want to. My eyeliner is as much a part of my identity as a tattoo, or a piercing on someone else. Every day, whether I'm going to uni, going on a night out, or spending the day at home, putting my make-up on gives me a buzz, the way going for a run is the highlight of a more athletic person's morning. I shouldn't have to deprive myself of that buzz to prove to anyone that I am a confident woman.

Being confident is about being completely comfortable with yourself, knowing what you love and believe in, and sticking to that no matter what. For me, the most important thing is that people feel good about themselves, whether that's make-up free, with a hint of mascara and lipstick, or a full face of make-up. What matters is that people know they have a choice. As long as we keep this conversation going, acknowledging the power the media has to warp our perceptions of beauty and force feed us images of airbrushed celebrities, we're on the right track. We just need to talk to kids from a young age about feeling body positive, and then the rest (what clothes they wear and whether or not they choose to wear makeup) can be well and truly left up to them.

So, although I love you Colbie, I'm quite happy to keep my make-up on for now. Because it doesn't feel like trying hard. It feels like being myself.

Thanks for reading!