Category Archives: Predicaments

tumblr, sign, art, curiosity

The word creative is a word once heard rarely, now wildly thrown around. Artist. Creative.

I have previously discussed how we are glamorising failure more and more, missing the step between learning and comfort. Which is where I pause and say, there is no comfort in art.

What I mean by this, is that it is being frequently understood that creative people need reassurance, because the world is large and social media makes it appear even larger. It feels as though our art, the thing we seek comfort from, could be lost in a flurry of a Trump Twitterstorm. A repeated tweet on feeds we've all seen tells us to encourage the art we enjoy seeing, make the author know you dig their blog post or comment on a photographer’s latest work than simply like it. Give feedback; likes and dislikes, but criticism most importantly as no creative person is above improvement. Don't be scared to say your thoughts, because we want to hear it. 

In fact, it’s something they are wanting most; comments on improvements, which piece worked, their style – is it successful in projecting their meaning or are you getting lost under the swap between italics and the bold?

However, this does delve into a small tangent of an issue when concerning encouragement and your creative friends. And that is that not all of the time do they need your reassurance that their art is good. Sounds a little complicated, and a little contradictory, right? By this, I mean, you may feel that the encouragement is encouraging, but to them it can come across as disparaging. Not all of the time, but it can be sometimes. Good for too long, means their art has swirled itself into a ball of something I call ‘comfort art’. The art that makes you, the reader and recipient, comfortable. And the creative has settled down into a bundle of comfort art and lacked pushing themselves forward to grow and mature their art the way, deep down, they desire to do.

You can’t comfort those who do not wish to be comforted.

When I say this, I mean the language that renders the recipient of the conversation mute. The ‘don’t worry about it’ or the ‘don’t put yourself down’. These don’ts, they make the creative flutter down to a subdued nod. Their fight or internal struggle with creativity has been boiled down into a ‘don’t’. They no longer can attempt to solve an issue, like writer’s block, nor praise themselves when they exclaim they have written something of possible substance. They have been silenced by a ‘don’t’ masked as encouragement. It is illogical to tell someone not to put themselves down or not to worry about something; the worry will happen, as will the bouts of confidence. It's natural to feel a way if circumstances dictate.

For example, if I as a writer am feeling like what I am writing is rubbish, there is a strong suggestion I am indeed writing rubbish. I, as a person and a writer, am able to fully gauge exactly how well I am doing or how badly. By telling someone not to be of worry or of doubt, you are making them feel as though they cannot feel this way. Almost as if you are telling them off, like a teacher or a parent and thus, making these feelings feel something like a misdemeanour.

"Give feedback; likes and dislikes, but criticism most importantly as no creative person is above improvement."

Moreover, telling this specifically to a female creative, can be seen as not only disrespectful but also dismissive. Dismissive, by this I mean, running through the same vein as seeing an issue as trivial. Already oppressed by a patriarchal society, the last thing we should be doing as a collective is censoring and evaluating a woman’s emotions. There is no need to weigh up an issue as 'deserving' of your attention, fully. Or deserving of more than an easy 'don't worry about it!'. Not to simply glaze over an issue, the way we all can sometimes do. 

Especially in a field widely dominated by men. To say ‘don’t put yourself down’ is as if to say ‘don’t say that’. It is censoring. It makes it seem as though, for a continuous use of the previous example, I am rubbish at writing but ‘at least I am giving it a try’. And it sounds, and comes across, as condescending.

"By telling someone not to be of worry or of doubt, you are making them feel as though they cannot feel this way."

It makes it seem as though my confidence comes under question because I am a woman, not because I am a writer. With this, it puts forth the idea women are insecure, especially about their ‘hobbies’, thus making such a thing trivial. I must be insecure and so need a ‘girl boss pep talk’ when really, I am evaluating my work and realising I am making progress. Good progress. And it is more than ok for me to share this and say so.

"I am evaluating my work and realising I am making progress. Good progress. And it is more than ok for me to share this and say so."

I think at such a deeply politically fraught time, the use of which words we use is coming more and more under the question. The consideration we now put into what we say can be argued as being too PC, as people can no longer speak on certain subjects in fear in causing over offence, usually from a place lacking the education on whatever subject they might wish to chat about. And yes, that is completely understandable. Myself included, as I’ve found myself being educated over subjects I was previously unaware of.

"The creative has settled down into a bundle of comfort art and lacked pushing themselves forward to grow and mature their art the way, deep down, they desire to do."

However, let's be real. No one likes comforting words that sound a lot more like a dig. And we all know how insecurity can worm its way into our veins and make a home behind our lungs. It goes deep, especially in younger women. We’ve been told time and time again how to behave, how to look and how to simply be. There's no need to add more. Don't you think?

The last thing we need is our art to be condensed down into something below. This really is mainly about being aware of how the other person feels when you give out advice or pep talks; not about how good you feel giving them. Are they really pep talks, if you’re brushing over their issue with your assumption of their talents? Let them talk. Art isn’t easy.

And insecurity can be infectious, if a worry is dismissed.

Lou x


I thought my level of uncomfortability over fake empowerment reached its height with Taylor Swift’s depiction of girl power in THAT Bad Blood music video. It turns out, Kendall Jenner can make something worse.

If you have yet to see the new Pepsi ad, encouraging people to ‘live for now moments’ is cringe inducing as one would expect from a soda company (it’s basically sugar and doesn’t taste all that, so they’ve got to make it shiny and new each time to attract our attention). But it’s problematic, for a number of reasons.

In the advert, Kendall Jenner is taking part in a photoshoot wearing a blonde wig and generally looking gorgeous and looking like a model she arguably is. She notices a protest outside but hangs back, posing some more. Then an attractive male cellist player comes along and they make eyes at each other. This is A Moment. He nods encouraging toward the protest. Suddenly, Jenner realises she too can be a part of this protest now. With the approval and encouragement of a boy, she rips off her blonde wig and smears her lipstick, yet her brown locks are still perfectly undone and the lipstick wipes off flawlessly. The blonde wig? Why it’s thrown into a black woman’s arms as Kendall struts off to take part of The Cause. Yet this cause looks oddly similar to many Black Lives Matter protests, just more bubble gum and cutesy. So like, why is Kendall going and not the unnamed black woman?

Oh and the sign’s all have the same tagline of ‘Join The Conversation’. On blue background signs. Because you can LOOK like you’re doing something hastag iconic, but don’t actually go out on a limb and make a stand over a political issue. That’s taking it too far. Stay #onbrand with marketing colours and keep your likability (read; markets) like both Pepsi and Kendall Jenner have done.

When Kendall waltzes through the crowd in impeccably double denim (also blue, hey Pepsi) it is a simple nod at the attractive cellist and she continues to surge to the front. People notice. They sense that Something Is Happening. Kendall breaks away from the crowd. She confidently and oh so bravely walks towards the line of police officers. A POC woman is looking on in awe, because when really making a difference, it’s only wealthy white women who can do it? Wearing her hijab, she eagerly lines her camera out to take a photo of this Iconic Moment. The cop takes a sip from the can and people cheer enthusiastically. This is it! Peace has been created!

And the moral of the ad? We should all be like Kendall Jenner; white, privileged, wealthy, slim, successful, young and most importantly, brave enough to take a stand. To be an ally to the movement. But wait.

Here’s why this ad is problematic; (if you haven’t picked up on my sarcasm yet, you’re in for a ride).

Firstly, Kendall Jenner is white. Yet she is the one that ‘saves’ the protest as she coolly and peacefully hands a cop a can of Pepsi. Forget peace talks! Share a Pepsi! Donald Trump worrying you because you feel like your very existence will be erased? Don’t sweat it, someone might give him a Pepsi! Brexit talks getting tense? They’ll pass round a six pack of Pepsi!

So to make a change, be white.

 

 

Secondly, why be an ally, when you could take over and end a protest conflict-free? As this tweet shows in a rose-tinted-window-smashing way, once you see that you can’t unsee it. Not only does Jenner end the protest, but she also manages to make it all about her. All POC should bow to her, for she is The Saviour. This is not how to be an ally and help POC – it’s undermining their fight by morphing it into a white issue, when it really isn’t a white issue.

 

Thirdly, the fact that the cop only then nods to his friends as if to say ‘hey, these protesters might be just like us!’ Because an attractive, commercialised white woman has handed them a soda, so like, why not think human beings might be the same? What a startling new discovery! Dare we say… Pepsi and Kendall Jenner… just ended racism in one single swoop?

 

It’s around here I’m meant to say ‘when will your fav EVER’ am I right?

 

By commercialising protests this ad, both Pepsi and Kendall Jenner are doing a disservice to all forms of demonstration. Through commercialisation, it loses its very nature of seriousness. The essence of consumerisation is something that takes away the human part of something else. The idea of protest is brought down to a mind-numbingly playful level. The idea of ‘why take part of a protest, when you can buy a can of Pepsi?’ is placed in the minds of the audience. The core fact that this is a reality for millions of people, protesting the right to live their lives they way they should be able to, without fear or intimidation.

Kendall Jenner fake-solving an issue with a can of soda is insulting, demeaning and frankly, far too fucking easy. It makes people think ‘why cause all this fuss?’ if things are so easy to solve. But spoiler; they are not easy to solve. At all. There are years of oppression to work through and understand, to be able to right across the board the state of equal rights. You cannot cutely solve racism. And you cannot make it into a mockery through a feel-good advert.

 

And you really can’t do it through a white owned soda company.

And as cringe-inducing as this ad is, it was also released at possibly the worst time ever - the anniversary of Martin Luther King's death. And all I can really think is - are you kidding me?

If Pepsi did indeed wish to make an advert to show their solidarity and support in a frightening political time, why pick a white wealthy model? Why not have someone who actually uses their platform to speak up on social issues. Because really...

 

When has Kendall Jenner ever spoke up about social issues?

 

Encouraging people to 'go vote' and leaving to speak up about supporting Hillary Clinton until the final days of the election, really isn't cutting it. Especially when you have a platform as big as Jenner does.

 

Let's not praise someone for doing the very least thing possible, call it groundbreaking and make everyone feel good about an ad that does nothing but sell sugar in a can. Let's not let this pass over, because there's a level of responsibility when you have a platform and do the whole 'show not tell' on important social and political issues. You don't get praised for noticing. 

 

People shouldn't be thankful you got a pay-check mimicking their fight for basic human rights.

 

 


I wake up
every morning and I’m writing. I have a coffee in my hand, shampoo lathering in
my hair, the sun creeping up through my window. Every moment is like a 90’s
romcom playlist blaring in my head, but instead of songs it’s words. Words I
create myself, be in in a form of a poem or an investigative piece; the dots
come together and it’s a moment of pure genius. These things I’ve tossed around
my head suddenly, and vividly, make sense.
Yet, this
again changes.

A sentence mulled over and over until it loses
meaning. A phrase at first so delicious and perfect, becomes stale and
dismissive. The lust becomes lacklustre. The chase ends at a disappointing
stop.

Some
writing scares me, for reasons I haven’t quite grasped yet. I think of the
weight in each word as I put them out into the world, thinking “is this the
right way? Could I say this better? Does it even make sense?” I fear expressing
myself wrong, wondering exactly how writers manage to make things just so, finding the most suitable phrase
without rambling. How they condense. How they don’t get scared on people not getting it.
Even when
I’m not physically writing, pen on paper or fingertips on keyboard, I’m
writing. I’m always writing; scribbling words out in my head, drawing lines
through sentences. It happens most when I do the mundane tasks, like cleaning or
being at work. By having my body busy, my mind has time to process fully and
luxuriously what it’s been desperate to do. It increases by tenfold when I have
someone as a muse, writing phrases I never once understood but then I do. When
I think of them, it all makes sense, be it a romantic or a platonic
relationship, it all makes sense. Tossing ideas back and forth before chucking
them overboard. Sometimes I write and write, letting it flow. After I feel elated,
I couldn’t be happier. But then I stop.
I stop
doing the things I’ve only just spoken about in my writing, as if immortalising
these habits kills them off. The gears stop. I don’t know why. It seems as
though the more I confess, the more lost I become. I cannot find salvation in my words, for I’ve given them over to
someone else. They’re no longer mine, but something that can be read on a
screen around the world, picked apart and ridiculed. Something that can be used
against me, or something which creates a division between me and a partner. And
it does. They dig. Find out more than they should. And I’m the one who loses,
because sometimes people cannot really understand the need to have a space in
this online world for only yourself. And this is where it becomes tricky.
It’s like
when I think about something I desperately want to happen, I imagine a person
maybe or an event, every conceivable thing happens to stop the one thing I want
from happening. I stop liking the person as soon as I see they again, even
though my heart tells me how much I miss them. I pass over an event which could
lead me into the event I want to experience. The dreams I dreamt up shatter
before my eyes. The lust is lost. The desire dissipates. Is the Universe
playing a big YOU THOUGHT on me, rising my hopes so high? Does the consistent
let down make the words stop being how they were?

I cannot find salvation in my words, for I’ve
given them over to someone else.

You see, I
adore the connecting on the Internet. I’ve met some very special people through
Twitter, as well as strengthening my relationships with people physically in my
life through social media. I love my life, the people I share it with, those
who make me laugh more than possible so I’ve just got to share that happiness. I want everyone to see. I want to say ‘look!
Look and how funny and fantastic this person is! Appreciate them! Because I don’t
think my appreciation is enough, because they are so bloody great.’ I will snapchat silly moments with friends, I’ll
take videos of those I care for, because I’ll be sitting down one day and it
will all feel more difficult than I thought possible. Those moments of
happiness, of simple silliness help ease the pressure off my chest when it
feels a little harder to breath, to think, to focus.
I think it’s
the confessional nature of my writing; I use my words to connect to people, to
show how we all feel the same at some point, even if it feels like we don’t. I’ve
yet to implement a strong enough filter, to grappled with who is my confidants
and who is my audience. At this time, it feels as though the World is walking
on Her tip toes around broken glass. She feels so fragile, like there are
splinters across Her happening we don’t fully comprehend. And that’s a reason I
struggle with writing, because there’s SO MUCH out there. So much. Every time I
click on my Twitter feed it feels as though I’m being swept away by the news,
by the fears and the panic. I don’t want to add to it sometimes, I can admit
that. Why add onto this fragile system, of panic and worry piled on top of each
other like Jenga blocks?

So what’s
the solution to this? I dig deeper. I
find out what exactly it is I want to say, I edit, I create my art primarily
for myself. I get back to my roots and I
centre myself there.

The drought
is over, because I’m saying it so. I believe this to be a new Era. Let it be
magnificent.

 

Lou x

Yesterday afternoon Another Man announced their 23rd cover star – Harry Styles. What followed blew my mind. 

As my feed filled with remarks on Styles appearance in all three covers, with the first and most commercial being applauded, I began to wonder. Why is this artist still viewed as an object?

We know I’m a fan of Harry Styles’ style. This isn’t new.


You can’t demand feminism in 2016 if you still view an artistic photo shoot as derivative just because you aren’t getting hot and bothered over it.


Why does he have to be hot? Why do we
demand this of man, the ‘man candies’ or #mcm to be six packed and
aesthetically pleasing as possible?


 We cry out when women are splashed over the
cover as the New Hot Girl and shriek it’s sexist. But then a magazine cover
comes out with Harry Styles on looking not his usual boyband self. And people
instantly put him down, saying he’s ‘so average looking’ ‘so not sexy at ALL,
I’d rather have Zayn’ or ‘does he think this looks good?’ What if this was
the reaction to a woman like Miley Cyrus at the start of her career post Hannah
Montana? Or Victoria Beckham when she branched into fashion? (Oh wait.)

Another Man magazine is not Sports
Illustrated or Playboy. The covers are not made for you to drool over the cover
stars features in a commercial way. Another Man launched in 2005 to cater to
the ever expanding interest in menswear; both the market and the new found
creativity. Regularly Another and Another man magazine create thought-provoking
articles, incredible imagery, stimulating editorials and show frankly
pioneering fashion in menswear. Therefore Another Man is not a magazine of tat
and fodder. It’s a niche magazine for a niche market – one for the intellectual,
creative, adventurous (and some would say hipster) males. So I could then make
the point to the ladies, this photoshoot isn’t even for you.
And that’s not a bad thing. Men’s
magazines have so few in comparison to women’s on fashion, art and socially
cultural articles. Men are allowed their own stuff. No biggie.
 When you saw those covers did you scoff? Did
you think ‘here goes another boybander trying to be more’ and roll your eyes? The
never ending fight young artists and performers battle against – to be seen as have
in grown up. And yet you’ll
lmao and ‘call out’ magazines if a woman’s breasts are more the central focus,
how exactly does that work? Is it because we think, as women, it’s FINALLY time
for men to feel how women have for years? The pressure to look as physically
attractive, sexy and appealing as possible at every moment of every day if we
encounter the opposite sex. As if it’s a punishment that must be passed on,
this dreaded feeling of being constantly ‘on’ cc appearance, which instead of
being squashed down full stop, we shove onto men. And not any man. A man who’s
in arguably the biggest boy band this planet has seen in generations, the fame
of One Direction was unprecedented. A man who was in the limelight at 16 and
presented as a man whore. 16, the age you have turned legal in the eyes of the
law to have sex, 16, an age we still consider girls young, 16, a situation the
country would have roared back if it had been a girl. 
But it was a boy and he was branded ‘a
lucky lad’ and ‘cheeky’ by the media to get anywhere near Caroline Flack. So
many more women would view this 16 year old boy as a sex object, a boy who
liked cougars. Who –at 16- is readily available. Who still to this day has sat
in interviews and been treated as meat. Gross.
Maybe that’s why people are so
pressed on Harry Styles not being commercially attractive on the three covers
of Another Man magazine. The public has been presented with the image of ‘playboy
Styles’ we forget how exactly is saying that, if there’s any value, if perhaps
Harry Styles is more than who he’s slept with? Like, we demand women to be seen
as more, then we must apply this logic to men as well. You can’t demand
feminism in 2016 if you still view an artistic photo shoot as derivative just
because you aren’t getting hot and bothered over it. It doesn’t work like that.
End of story.
You want feminism then you realise
both sexes are more than their looks and should be treated as such. A celebrity
isn’t just for you to view and be ‘hot’ and ‘attainable’ as One Direction were
presented when they started, the ‘boys that could be your boyfriend, if you’re
lucky’. Are we even still on that PR, even subconsciously?
If one wants art and fashion, real artistic talent and
photography skills to come into the foreground then don’t knock off Harry
Styles before you try it, as it were. If you hadn’t known the celebrity, if he
had been a model instead, the likelihood is you’d see more of an appeal. There
would be exclamations on how he looks like a young Mick Jagger (have you seen
the moodboard for the Another man shoot? Very early Rolling Stones. And like c’mon.
The second cover?). 
Instead what
you’re getting is the deconstruction of an image 5 years in the making. The
very thing that may be familiar to so many, is being shredded and in the
digital age, this image overhaul has been incredibly well documented. 

I must say a large and heartfelt bravo to Another Man, for
creating such stimulating and intriguing covers. They show more layers than an
X-Factor boy band member, a new side to Mr Styles we’ve only glimpsed at and I’m
excited to know more. Bye heartthrob, let’s see the Styles of now.
And frankly, if a man can work a Gucci floral suit I think he’s more than what you think he is. Just food for thought.

Lou x

Want to send an email? Contact louisenicoleramsay@gmail.com
Twitter; @LouiseRamsay_ click here 

Instagram; @LouRamsay_ click here
Bloglovin; Predicaments Of A Fashion Lover, click here