0

I’ve gone legit!

Hello everyone,

I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting you lately, but I promise I have good reasons. During the last month I’ve been applying to study an M.A, I’ve been to Croatia annnd I’ve created a legit blog with my very own domain! I got my domain from biz.nf which gives you your own WordPress domain for free!
web hosting
http://docs.biz.nf/set_aid.php?aid=MTkyMzI3MjMyNzI0MjI=

I’m still going to post on this blog, but if you have a moment it would be amazing if you could go and check out my new blog and maybe save it to your favorites. It is primarily a travel blog with better versions of my old entries, and it will soon be stuffed full of new content including details of my trips to Crete, France, Spain, Portugal, and Croatia. I’m also going to a few other places before uni starts so I’m planning on filling it full of interesting and exciting things :).

Advertisements
0

Why America Should Legalise drugs (non-stoner reasons).

https://mcxv.com/real-reason-drugs-legalised-america-no-dont-just-want-get-high/ 

Happy belated 420 everyone.

I just wrote an article about why America should legalise drugs. Most of the reasons people tend to come up with is a person’s rights over their own body, the ridiculousness of criminalising something that only ‘harms’ yourself, and the relative safety regarding certain illegal substances (like marijuana) as opposed to legal substances (like alcohol).

These are all very true, but I thought I would try and get away from the personal reasons and focus on how legalising drugs could have huge positive ramifications on America’s messed up prison system, disproportionate representation of African Americans in American prisons, the fact that the punishment often does not fit the crime, how legalising drugs could help with overcrowding, how many Americans are actually in jail because of drug-related offences etc.

I am not from America. I should also admit that I have not been to America so a lot of my information comes from articles, statistics and Orange Is The New Black. If anyone is from the states and/or knows about the prison system and has any comments on my article or the issues relating to drugs, racism, prisons and crime please let me know!

Check out my article by clicking here or going to https://mcxv.com/real-reason-drugs-legalised-america-no-dont-just-want-get-high/ 

0

My response to Everyday Feminisms post on ‘concern trolling’, body positivity and fat shaming

If you read my blog regularly (and you should!) you may already know that I’m quite critical of the modern feminist movement. This does NOT mean I don’t appreciate and I don’t support 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave feminists (to me 3rd wave feminists were in the ’90’s and is encapsulated by shows like Buffy, Xena, Dark Angel etc), nor does it mean I have some archaic view of women belonging in the home as baby making machines with tiny brains and men controlling everything. I just believe that feminism as it exists today has been derailed onto petty issues, bad arguments, and dodgy politics and in its current state it isn’t something I want to be associated with. If you’re interested in reading my thoughts on feminism in more detail go here.

For this post I’m not going to be talking about feminism per se but I will be critiquing a feminist publication: the infamous Every Day Feminism. This website is a pretty good example of everything that I believe is wrong with modern day feminism and oppression politics. It is often really badly written and either unedited or very, very badly edited, it makes erroneous claims which it then backs up with other articles from the same damn website, and it assumes moral superiority to the point that if you disagree with the argument, not even the principle but the argument, then you are an evil bigot who needs to be educated and/or shut out for your toxic views.

The article I’m going to be critiquing is “11 Reasons Your ‘Concern’ for Fat People’s Health isn’t Helping Anyone.” Before we begin I would like to clarify that I do not support bullying, harassment or general nastiness on an individual basis. I am not writing this to support or condone people who physically or verbally harass fat people. It is also true that there are underlying medical conditions which can affect someone’s weight and fatness is not necessarily a result of over eating or poor lifestyle. This article is also about obesity, not people who are just overweight.

1. Because Stereotyped Assumptions About Someone’s Weight Are Oppressive

“To hear assumptions from dietitians and other healthcare practitioners that because of a physical characteristic, their weight, they must be unhealthy and engaging in poor self-care.

To then have people on the Internet dedicating entire comment threads to berating them.

Everyone – fat or thin – is severely harmed by this message. And as social justice activists, it’s first and foremost your job to show empathy to marginalized folks – and then look inward to examine your unchallenged assumptions.”

This is true to some extent. You cannot know a strangers health just by looking at them. There are healthy fat people and there are unhealthy thin people and you can’t know someone’s health status unless a: they tell you or b: you medically examine them yourself. It isn’t okay to go up to strangers and go “OMG you’re so fat. You must be sooooo unhealthy. Do you have diabetes?”. Obviously that’s not okay and I for one don’t support accosting individuals on their life choices in any case.

But what this article seems to be saying is that the medical health practitioners who examine someone and suggest they lose weight for their health are assuming based on stereotypes rather than the medical facts for that individual person. It basically assumes that there aren’t any health problems associated with being obese and anyone, even if they are a medically trained professional, is being a bigot if they express concern. And that’s just nuts. 

It is an excepted medical fact that obesity can lead to many health problems ranging from breathlessness, back pain, fatigue, excessive sweating and general unfitness to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Naturally, if someone has medical training and these are medical facts if they see someone who is excessively overweight they will inform them of the risks and suggest they make some changes in their lives. As this medical professional would presumably have access to their medical records they would not be making the assumption that this person being overweight was due to their lifestyle when it was actually caused by something else. It is not oppressive for a doctor to tell you the truth and suggest you make some changes to improve your life.

2. Because Fat Doesn’t Kill

Again this is partly true. No one dies from ‘fatness’ in itself and there are overweight people who lead very healthy lifestyles, eat fairly healthily and have regular life expectancies. Being overly thin as well as overly fat can also be an indication of severe health problems and health problems could happen to anyone regardless of their body type. Being thin or being an average weight doesn’t make you immortal and won’t necessarily protect you against the health conditions mentioned above.

But what fat does do is put excess pressure on your organs, raise the risk (not the certainty, the risk) of certain health problems including life threatening illnesses, and can reduce the quality of your life. Being extremely obese, becoming immobile, not being able to take care of yourself and not being able to lift your own body weight are real concerns for some people. Sure scare mongering doesn’t work, but telling people as long as they feel beautiful everything will be fine isn’t helping anyone either.

3. Because Fat Doesn’t Cause Disease Either

This point basically goes on about correlation, not causation and uses the ice cream and drowning example as a way to show that obesity does not cause health problems but is correlated with them.

And it’s not exactly wrong. Being fat does have a positive correlation to health problems and it can make them more likely, but it does not guarantee them. You could be obese and live a long and happy life. That does happen. That could happen to you.

But you know what? I could say the exact same thing about smoking. Because smoking has a strong positive correlation with health problems but we all know a story or know someone personally who smoked all their lives and lived a long and relatively healthy life. If you’re a young smoker (16-35 say) you’re fairly unlikely to die from your habit. Your quality of life may be affected and there’s never any guarantees but realistically speaking we all know smokers who seem pretty healthy. Correlation does not guarantee causation but the increased risk is real. If you want to take that risk it’s up to you.

4. Because, If Anything, Fatphobia Causes Adverse Health Effects

It is true that depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation are listed as possible symptoms of obesity. I don’t think you should be promoting an unhealthy lifestyle or saying that lying around and eating junk all day is a lifestyle choice that should be celebrated, but you shouldn’t abuse or harass people based on their appearance either. It is also true that we have extremes in our fashion industry which normally only depict thin women or fat women and completely ignore everyone in the middle which creates this idea that if you’re not 5’8 and skinny you’re automatically fat which may make people less likely to try because being 5’8 and a size 8 (English sizes) just isn’t realistic for a lot of people. We should have more diversity in fashion and in the media.

But you can’t blame everything on other people. A lot of people, including a lot of fat people, don’t see obesity as an attractive body type and if you are uncomfortable with your body shape it is likely to lead to feelings of low self-esteem.  These body ideals are probably influenced by the media but they are not solely created by the media. 

If I put on a lot of excess weight and I don’t like what I see it’s not because I’m thinking about fashion models or even about how other people will see me, it is because /I/ do not like what I see. When I then lose weight it is because /I/ want to be comfortable with myself. I have a huge problems with people pushing this idea that all of our insecurities and ideals are solely shaped by the patriarchal media. Can’t people try to lose weight because it makes them feel better inside and out? Maybe it doesn’t do that for you, but it certaintly does it for me.

If you are uncomfortable with your body shape and there is no underlying cause for it surely the way to make yourself feel better is to try and work towards something you find more attractive in a healthy, realistic way, not simply be told that ‘if people don’t like how you look it’s their problem’. Because it’s not always about other people. If you are happy with how you look and you’re not worried about health then by all means do whatever you want, but if you’re not happy with being obese that doesn’t mean you’ve just been ‘brain washed’ by the media. You are not incapable of knowing what you want for your own body. Can people please stop being so patronising?

This point is also only addressing a few areas of a much larger problem. Depression and anxiety are not the only health problems associated with obesity. Does fat phobia create heart disease, diabetes, breathlessness, sweatiness, cancer, and stroke?

5. Because Mental Health Is Also Health

Because when you ridicule someone, or a group of people, based on their social disadvantages, especially wherein you hold power, what we call that is bullying.

Of course it is. I’m not sure why these people always assume that if you mention anything in opposition to what you say you’re automatically bullying them. My approach to talking about obesity is simply this: You never, ever, ever attack someone personally. You do not chase strangers down the street, you do not send people on the internet hate abuse, and you do not bully people you know by making fun of them. When you talk about obesity it is either objectively as a health problem without talking about any one individual or, and this is up to your own discretion, to a close friend if you’re worried about them and they have expressed an interest in losing weight.

Pointing out the risks objectively isn’t the same as bullying someone. As a semi/ex-smoker if someone were to come up to me in the street, flick my cigarette/e-cigarette out of my hand and shout at me about cancer then I would feel personally abused. But if I see an article on the internet talking about the real medical health problems associated with smoking… that’s not personally targeting me. That’s letting me know the risks so I can choose what to do with my own body. Why should obesity be different?

6. Because ‘Glorifying Obesity’ Isn’t a Bad Thing

Isn’t it? Overeating/Binge eating is an eating disorder which is mentioned on eating disorder websites alongside bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Now it’s true that not everyone who is overweight is overweight due to their lifestyle choices, there are underlying medical issues which can have a huge effect and everyone should keep this in mind, but for a lot of fat advocates this really isn’t the case. They do say that it’s fine to eat whatever you want whenever you want in whatever quantities because as long as you feel good about yourself nothing else matters.

If that’s what you want to do with your life I’m not going to stop you. I do believe we should focus more on health rather than appearance and we need to acknowledge that different shapes and sizes are natural and not everyone has the same body shape, but without an existing condition I just cannot believe that being obese is natural.  Yes the BMI is a bit dodgy and yes some people get higher results because of bone density, muscle and/or other physical attributes but it really just comes down to common sense. Just because the BMI /can/ be faulty doesn’t mean it is /always/ faulty. You are welcome to do what you want to your own life but when you start saying it is not only a personal choice but something that should be emulated, promoted and glorified … then expect criticism.

7. Because One-Size-Fits-All Definitions of ‘Health’ Are Ableist and Perpetuate Heathism

There are still a million questions that we have for you.

Like how the fuck do you define “health” in the first place? And who gets to decide what that is? And how is there any possible way to judge health based on a person’s size?

And is it even really appropriate to value health?

I would say that medical tests for your blood pressure, BMI and general fitness level would be a pretty good place to start. I actually agree with the whole ‘no one size fits all’ thing because it is very clearly true.  People have different body shapes and some people have naturally different proportions. We cannot and should not all try and have the same body because we aren’t meant to have the same body. What we should be focusing on is how to make the most out of the body we do have, not the body we think we should have or wish we had.

 It is also true that skinny people and regular sized people can experience health problems. I know skinny people with health problems. And rapid weightloss can be a sign of a huge variety of medical conditions.

But I feel that this is kind of avoiding the point. Saying that other people experience health problems as well doesn’t mean there isn’t a link between health problems and obesity. Just because you might experience them regardless of your weight doesn’t mean you should increase the risk by eating loads and loads of food. If you see someone who is immobile, or someone who cannot walk up stairs or has trouble moving, or someone who is constantly out of breath and sweating, or someone who has loads of digestive problems, or someone who is just miserable with how they look … that’s a pretty good indication that they aren’t healthy. This doesn’t mean everyone who is obese is necessarily going to suffer these problems but it doesn’t change the fact that it makes it more likely.

In the U.K there is also the NHS argument for the last point. I don’t particularly like this argument because if we want universal health care it must be universal and ultimately people have autonimy over their own bodies, but for the sake of debate if you are obese due to lifestyle choices and you have avoidable health problems which you are treated for on the NHS then it is kinda everyone’s problem because you are taking up money, resources and beds which could be used for non preventable conditions.

Also what is heathism?  I’m going to assume that’s an example of Every Day Feminisms fabulous editing and it actually means ‘healthism’. What is healthism? Is it really a bad thing to promote health? Granted not everyone has the same level of health but if you don’t surely it’s even more important to be as healthy as possible? I really don’t get that one to be honest.

8. Because Weight Loss Doesn’t Actually Improve Health Anyway

What they do in this point is try to argue that weight loss alone doesn’t improve health. And yknow what? They’re right. Starving yourself, going on fad diets or yo yo diets or getting surgery probably won’t improve your health and weight loss surgery should really only be done in an emergency. But saying that fad diets, starvation and medical surgery won’t improve your health is kind of a given because … they won’t. Weight loss can’t be a quick one step process. It is a gradual thing that happens naturally as a result of fairly small lifestyle changes. Exercise and not living a sedentary lifestyle are also really, really important.

Everyday Feminism says that they promote a healthy diet and exercise. If they do then that’s great, but do they?

  It depends on what you mean by a healthy diet as portion control, calories and what you are eating are obviously going to play a part. It also depends on what you mean by exercise because going to the gym and doing some light cardio once a week is unlikely to improve your fitness levels that much or help you lose weight. But if you do follow a healthy diet with potion sizes that still make you full but not to the point of over eating AND you follow a exercise regime which incorporates cardio, weights and generally moving around … unless you have a pre-existing reason for being obese … I just don’t think you would stay obese if you did those things.

9. Because No, Being Fat Is Not At All Like Being a Smoker

First, being fat is a physical characteristic, not a behavior.

Second, smoking has been proven to cause death and disease. Being fat, on the other hand, has not.

Unless the fat is a result of a pre existing condition then it is a pretty strong indicator of a behaviour. And obviously you can’t ‘catch fatness’ from standing next to someone eating a cheeseburger. Obviously not. There are however links between obese parents and obese children and children who have obese parents are likely to become obese themselves so in that way you can kind of ‘catch it’, but through eating behaviour and lifestyle rather than actually catching it just because you stood near a fat person.

In reality, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, an epidemiologist named Richard Doll published research suggesting first that smoking could cause serious health damage and second that there was a close link between smoking and lung cancer, which was repeatedly confirmed.

Surely this ‘close link’ is a positive correlation much like the one that links obesity with numerous health disorders?

No one is saying that smoking is exactly like being obese. But the way it is handled and the way you should talk about it are quite similar in my view. In the same way that it is unnacceptable to approach a fat person eating in the street and lecture them on the importance of a healthy diet it is also unacceptable to accost an unknown smoker and talk to them about lung cancer. But both parties need to know the risks, they should know that there are options availible is they want to make healthier choices and we should not glorify or understate the potential problems associated with either thing. 

Ultimately people have the control over their bodies and no one else has the power or the authority to change that, but that does not mean we have to pretend it’s all fine.

10. Because You’re Subscribing to a Harmful Bootstraps Myth Mentality

So when we perpetuate the narrative that we all have a choice in whether our bodies are fat or thin, we push the idea that everyone should be striving toward thinness all the time – and that is something that actually harms us all.

Can we just get off the thin thing for a moment? It’s not a question of being extremely fat or extremely thin. Those are not the only two options. It is not a question of trying to force everyone to be thin, it’s about encouraging extremely obese people to make changes in their lives so that they lose some weight and have a better quality of life. 

This is why I think we are desperately in need of ‘average’ sized models who are not plus size but are not super skinny either. We need to show that there aren’t just two options and that you don’t just leap from skinny straight to plus size.

11. Because, Straight Up, Fat-Shaming Just Makes You a Jerk

Concern trolling does not make you a hero. You’re not saving anyone’s life.

You’re not motivating anyone toward health. You’re not helping someone cope with oppression. You’re hurting people. All concern trolling does is hurt people – both individually and socially.

And if that isn’t a good enough reason to reevaluate your actions, then what is?

I’m really not sure how pointing out medical truths is hurting people, nor how ignoring medical truths is helping people. There are people out there who can be really mean on an individual basis and that’s not cool, but if talking about a medical issue which is already all over the media as a nation if not western world wide problem isn’t allowed because it might hurt someones feelings then surely nothing will ever get done and our government will continue to try and push sugar taxes and healthy eating down our noses whilst people like you sit back and say the only problem is mean people.

If you have been hurt, upset or felt victimised by the contents of this post then please let me know how and why. Any comments, queries or criticisms are encouraged but flames, trolls or anything which just goes “OMG YOU’RE SO MEAN!” without saying how and why will be ignored and deleted.

 

1

#OscarsSoWhite and what else we can do about it

Read my article about #OscarsSoWhite here.

When people talk about #OscarsSoWhite I feel like they are missing a vital point. We need more diverse staff at all levels of the industry i.e in directing, writing, producing and casting as well as acting because without it we miss out on a lot of talent which we the audience could benefit from, but this isn’t the only way we can try and get more diverse actors in the short term. A lot of main and secondary characters are ‘racially neutral’ i.e their race hasn’t been specified and yet for some reason unless we are specifically told otherwise we assume that all these characters are white.

I remember the recent uproar when the part of Hermione Granger in ‘The Cursed Child’ was given to a black woman and a bunch of people  just couldn’t understand why this Hermione was black when the character was meant to be white. But was she meant to be white? Did J.K.Rowling specify her race? As far as I can recall from the books Hermione’s specific skin colour is not mentioned (although we know she has bushy hair) and so we didn’t actually know whether she was meant to be white or not. We just assumed.

The recent talk (however real it actually was) of having a black James Bond is another important point because there really isn’t any reason Bond couldn’t be black. The people who talk about the ‘historical accuracy’ of Bond’s race seem to forget that in the 1950s we didn’t have smart phones, lap tops or tablets. We didn’t have many of the fancy tech gadgets they use for the films now, hell we still haven’t invented some of the things they show in those films. So although it’s perfectly true that a historically accurate James Bond probably couldn’t be black, since when was historical accuracy an issue for the Bond series? James Bond is a timeless character who adapts to the time, fears and current threats the world has. He has no set time, and he needn’t have a set race either.

I believe that true equality in mainstream film won’t just come from hiring more diverse writers and hoping they write about more non-white characters (although that is a big part of it). Real equality can only come when we stop assuming everyone is white unless stated otherwise, when we stop limiting talented actors to specific roles. Real equality can only happen when we stop seeing people as representatives or spokes people for their race, gender, sexuality etc and start seeing them as individuals who can play individual parts. Only when we all have the freedom to play a superhero, a villain and a romantic lead without people focusing on “what our character says about our specific group and what kind of role model we are” will we have full equality.

To read my article on Diversity at the Oscars click here now.

http://uk.blastingnews.com/entertainment/2016/10/we-need-more-diversity-at-the-oscars-but-are-we-thinking-about-it-the-right-way-001174171.html

 

0

Amber Rudd’s’Name and shame’ proposal leaves a lot of unanswered questions and a rather irksome feeling.

Despite all claims to the contrary I’ve always tried to avoid the simplistic view that BREXIT was primarily about race and xenophobia. Whilst no one is denying that the ‘breaking point’ campaign and indeed a lot of the leave campaigns rhetoric was focused on immigration (despite EU immigration being limited to Europe these campaigns tried to focus on refugees, which is kind of ironic considering we still have a duty to them with or without our EU membership) there were other factors that would encourage someone to vote leave.

My article on Public Opinion and the Young People Who Voted Leave discusses several of these alternative reasons and shows that many people were influenced by the perceived anti-democratic way the EU was run, they wanted to leave what they saw as a global superpower that was trying to control 28 countries from a remote headquarters, and/or they wanted Britain to have more control over their destiny and economy. It would be very naive to assume that no one voted leave due to racist and/or xenophobic reasons, but the idea that these were the only reasons highlights the remain campaign’s failure to appeal to people in the first place.

Recent events have made me a little disturbed, however.This ‘name and shame’ policy that attempts to look at how many non-British born people work for a particular company does sound quite sinister because the aim appears to be quite clear. This policy seems to have been discontinued due to the backlash it recieved, but the fact that this was an option, the fact that this is what our government wanted to focus on is a little scary and perhaps shows what is to come. According to The Guardian Amber Rudd’s aims were as follows:

“Under her proposals, firms could be forced to disclose what percentage of their workforce is non-British as a way to encourage them to hire more locals. Ms Rudd said she wanted to “flush out” companies abusing existing rules and “nudge them into better behaviour”.

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37561035

Whether they publish their findings or not the goal seems to be to check how many migrants compared to how many British born people work for a particular company and if they are not satisfied that British people are getting first pick at the jobs they may take measures to encourage the company in question to focus on British applicants and give them first choice for employment. I am not sure if these policies will focus on people who weren’t born in the U.K themselves or people whose ancestors were immigrants, nor do I know whether it will focus on a particular group (i.e European immigrants or non-EU immigrants).

I also don’t know if ‘British born’ is going to be based on race or residential status and how that’s going to be qualified (will Amber Rudd count you as a British citizen if you weren’t born in Britain but have British citizenship? Will a recent immigrant with a better application be turned away in favour of someone who has no relevent experience but is a Britis citizen?) but either way this seems very contradictory to our apparent commitment to inclusion and the need to encourage a more representative, diverse workforce not only so our workforce reflects the country we actually live in but so we don’t end up with stale ideas and we don’t miss out on talent.

We already know that we have a problem with diversity in British industries, and even though we have schemes and quota systems in place to encourage a more diverse workforce they don’t always seem that effective. We know, for example, that around 8% of the Creative sector (i.e media, film and art-based jobs) are nonwhite, and when we consider that a lot of these jobs are based in London where the demographic is roughly around 40-60% this is quite shocking. (source here: http://www.gold.ac.uk/news/the-creative-industries-and-meritocracy/)

From a quick Google search on the subject I found the following statistics:

  • Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than white employees with the qualifications
  • Ethnic minority people were more likely to live in poverty than white people
  • Ethnic minorities are still “hugely under-represented” in positions of power – such as judges and police chiefs (info found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37114418)When they are talking about hiring more locals, what jobs do they mean? Do they mean the NHS where a significant portion of the workforce is made up of Non-British born staff? Do they mean the jobs many British people simply don’t want to do or don’t have the skills for? Do they mean the more competitive industries where diversity is still a real issue? And what do they mean by foreigners? Is this based on your race, where you were born, or is it simply how soon it was that you moved to the UK? If you were brought up here and lived most of your life here but you happened to be born in another country how do you fit in? How do you qualify a British person and how do you qualify a non-British person?

    It is hard to get a job in the U.K and a lot of this is because there is too much competition for certain jobs, not enough jobs to go around and a real preference for free labour under the guise of ‘internships’. How we could sort that out is a whole other issue, but the solution isn’t to close off all opportunities to people who ‘aren’t British enough’ if they have the skills that the particular job needs. Surely if companies are encouraged to hire as many ‘British’ workers as possible it will exasperate inequalities. Surely changing hiring policies so ‘the British come first’ would increase racial profiling? Surely ‘British Jobs for British workers’ is quite an open statement which doesn’t really mean anything,  because who is British and who isn’t? What are you basing that on?

0

Interviewing artists: Bryony May Mind Strays

Brighton

Brighton, for those of you who don’t know, is a fabulous seaside city about an hour out of London which is famous for its excellent vegan food (it has more than one vegan pub!), its acceptance of weed, vape shops and harem pants, and its status as one of the most (if not the most) LGBTQ friendly cities in the U.K.

A few weeks ago, I went to Brighton for a beach party in celebration of Trans Pride Day. I met loads of vibrant and colorful characters that day, and one such character was the delectable Bryony May, a Brighton based freelance artist who kindly agreed to be the first interviewee for my new blog series ‘Interviewing Artists’.

Interviewing Artists

This is a new blog series I am starting which will focus on local artists and their work. I’ve always loved art, and  I’ve always known and appreciated people who are artists and who want to make art a full-time career.

It is very hard to live off your art (in the same way it’s very hard to be a full-time actor or writer), and building a reputation and constantly marketing your work can be a full-time job in itself. I want to introduce lesser-known but no less talented artists to a wider audience, and I want to help promote them in any way I can.

Interviewing artists will start with a brief description of the artist and their work, followed by an interview with the artist which explores their inspiration and themes, and finally the artist will explain the thought, themes and inspiration behind some of their work.

Artist profile: Bryony May

young dude
Image: Young Dude by Bryony May

Bryony May is a full-time freelance artist who uses their art to explore the themes of relationships, abuse, and mental illness.  You can find Bryony on Facebook and Etsy as Bryony May Mind Strays.

Bryony is a self-employed full-time artist. They run every aspect of their art business themselves, from the marketing to postage and packaging. Every piece of art they make is unique and one-of-a-kind. If you want to buy any of the art featured in this post, please go to Bryony’s Etsy account to find out more.

Bryony is agender and prefers gender neutral pronouns, hence why I am referring to them as ‘they’, ‘them’ or ‘their’.

Interview 

You say on your Facebook page that your art is influenced by mental illness, relationships, and abuse. If possible could you expand on that and on what you are hoping to achieve with your art?

fAs someone who is affected by mental illness (currently depression and anxiety, in my past, borderline personality disorder) and someone who has lived through multiple abusive relationships and who is always exploring how to create new healthier connections with people, I feel these are the subjects I can portray most knowledgably that I am passionate about in my own life. I hope to provide an insight into how it feels to be affected by these issues,and to show solidarity with those who’ve been affected similarly, to help those feeling isolated by their emotions to feel understood and respected.

How do you think art can be used in the fight for equality?

Soon I will be producing more work alongside my current collection addressing mental illness and abuse, that addresses sexism, homophobia,and transphobia, as these are also issues I feel confident commenting on as I am an agender pansexual, and sexism affects everyone. I want my work to be worn on walls as a badge of honour for a person proud to be surviving in this world as a member of an oppressed group, or as a badge of empathy for a person or company who wishes to show solidarity with oppressed groups.

Are you having much success working as an independent artist? What kind of advice would you give to fellow artists in regards to making money and promoting yourself?

It’s hard work, I look forward to the day I make enough to live off, I am currently living off a finite supply of savings, some months I’ll sell 4 or 5 works, some I won’t sell any. I keep with it because I’m passionate about it, its what I’m good at, its what I enjoy and Its really important to me.
 
painMy advice is if your aim is to make money, do something else, if you feel how I do, and you are passionate about your work, get to it! make and make and make and once you have a body of work you feel says what you want it to get an Etsy account, if you’re lucky enough to have or know someone who has web development skills get your own website made and advertise the heck outa it! I have no budget for advertisement so most people find out about my work through me shouting about it on social media, I run so many accounts its hard to keep track of them all myself, I have Facebook as my main one where I share everything then I post my art with links on Instagram and tumblr and pinterest and I might be setting up a twitter account soon, its a lot, but its important to have a big web presence when you can’t afford a physical venue or advertisement.

And make sure you take care of yourself, its not going to pick up straight away, it takes time, it took me well over a year of trying this to sell my first piece and that was to a friend, don’t be disheartened and keep going, and remember to take time off, when you’re in charge of when you work it can be really hard to remember you deserve and need a break from time to time, so don’t forget to let yourself relax now and then, if you’re stressed out your work will suffer anyway so if not for yourself do it for that.

What do you hope to have achieved in 10 years time?

il_570xN.1024502466_k1ayI’d really like to be living off my art by then, I’d like my work to be better known, but I’d also not want to be famous myself ever, I’m not the important bit of what I do.
I’d like to collaborate with artists who are familiar with other important subjects that I feel need addressing but that don’t directly affect me, such as racism, and mental illnesses and disorders I’ve never had.
I have an idea for a performance piece I’d like to create, but it involves a venue and a lot of paint, these things cost money I don’t have, but perhaps sometime in the next 10 years I will, fingers crossed.

Analysis

I tore

I Tore Myself Open to Smile for You

All my work is open to the interpretation of the viewer, the meaning I intended to illustrate when I created it is not necessarily the “right” way to view it, I’ll provide it here for context but I encourage you to make up your own mind before reading what I think about it. one of my favourite parts of being an artist is hearing how all the differing perspectives people have effect what they see in my work, I love how it can mean so many different things to so many different people and I never want to tell anyone how it “should” be viewed, so here I simply offer just another perspective.

To create this piece I first drew a rough outline of what the face should look like in pencil then with fine liner I picked out details like the teeth nose and eyes, then I used Ink pencils to add a light skin tone to the face and colour to the eyes, then to illustrate the effect of it being tear stained I dripped water onto the light skin tone areas of ink pencil to cause it to bleed and pool. Then with candle wax I traced the rough outline of the face with a manic sort of line to express the instability of the figure, then letting the wax resist the black ink I filled in the background, using an old toothbrush to scratch more depth into the face with the same ink. Then I dripped red ink around the mouth cavity to emphasise the ripping open of the figure and dripped diluted blue ink from the left eye subtly dripping down through the whole image all the way to the bottom signifying further the pain the figure is in. then finally, I literally tore at the figure splitting the face in half and tearing into the pained creases of the eyes.

Then with candle wax I traced the rough outline of the face with a manic sort of line to express the instability of the figure, then letting the wax resist the black ink I filled in the background, using an old toothbrush to scratch more depth into the face with the same ink. Then I dripped red ink around the mouth cavity to emphasise the ripping open of the figure and dripped diluted blue ink from the left eye subtly dripping down through the whole image all the way to the bottom signifying further the pain the figure is in. then finally, I literally tore at the figure splitting the face in half and tearing into the pained creases of the eyes.

This piece aims to illustrate the pain in concealing my true emotions in previous relationships where I was afraid they would leave me or be over burdened should I express my troubles to them so I would force a fake smile and pretend everything was ok for their benefit resulting only in my own pain growing and a feeling of irrational bitterness towards them as if they had forced me to act this way to appease them when the whole time it was my choice, we would have both benefited from me being more open, but I was still recoiling from having offered up too much of myself in the past, still trying to find the mid ground where I could be open without handing over responsibility, and over shooting.

falling

Falling

This piece was created by hand drawing the figures in pencil, colouring the bottom figure in with black ink and cutting them out together and placing them on a tea stained ground.

This piece was created with the intention of illustrating how I’ve experienced the feeling of falling in love when suffering from depression and a feeling of dependence, an uneasy almost literal falling into the other person, letting them engulf me and using them as a distraction from and protection against the incoming ground, placing myself and all my insecurities in their arms to protect, leaving my responsibility to take care of myself with them, without the headspace to consider how that might effect them as they eventually, inevitably, impact with the ground and disperse from my life, my self worth with them, until I learn to love myself again.

what

What Do I Do With This

This piece was created by painting the paper with a blood red ink ground then painting over that with layers of white wall paint, drawing the hands in black fine liner once the right shade of pink is accomplished and then painting further layers of the white wall paint around the hands, then I carved through the layers with a scalpel to create the heart, and painted further blood red ink on the back to let it bleed through the now weakened area where I carved the heart.

I intended this work to Illustrate how I felt when I was in a relationship where my partner was dependant on me and had carved themselves into my life, they cut away at me, carved their heart into me, attached themselves, I couldn’t escape for fear they would commit suicide if they found themselves without me, I felt trapped by this overwhelming responsibility over this other person who I did care deeply about but could not help, it was like their heart bled through me, they were very unwell and I put them before myself very often as I felt my struggles were lesser than theirs and as such I felt they should have my priority, they kept handing me more and more of their struggles and I just, didn’t know what to do with them, it hurt to hold them, it hurt not to be able to help as they thought I could, and it cut into me, so much so that this person become the only partner I’ve ever dumped, it still hurts that I had to do that, but it was apparent that at best I wasn’t helping and at worst, no matter how they thought otherwise, I was hurting them, and myself, by staying.

If you want to learn more about Bryony or you would like to buy any of the pieces featured in this article, please go to Bryony’s Etsy account or their Facebok page.

Check back soon for more art, recipes, news and general musings about life. Also remember to take a look at my book review website and the cover reveal for the next book on my reading list, Leah by Dana Haffar.

0

An update on my life, and a rant about Jeremy Corbyn

Read my article on Jeremy Corbyn as the underdog of British politics.

Me

I’ve been neglecting my poor blog.

Things have been quite busy. I’m trying to work as a freelance writer, which basically involves sending pitches and searching the internet for writing opportunities for hours and perhaps actually getting something once or twice a week. It started slow, but I’m feeling optimistic about it. I’m working as a ghostwriter, which isn’t great as you get no credit for your work, but on the other

I’m working as a ghostwriter, which isn’t great as you get no credit for your work, but on the other hand I’m getting paid to write. It’s ghostwriting for a tech company, so I have to rewrite and research these tech topics like virtual assistants for android phones and then write a load of words on them. It’s quite fun, I’m learning a lot of trivia and I’ve discovered some really addictive phone games.

I’ve also found a few other jobs along the way, including a job which literally paid me $100 me to record myself saying phrases. I think they were testing for a Google app, as I had to repeat the word “Google” so many times it stopped sounding real. It did get a bit repetitive, but realistically making $100 dollars by lying in bed and talking is pretty much the best thing ever.

Getting paid for journalism, opinions and analysis is pretty hard, especially for newbies, and as that’s what I really want to do it kind of sucks. I’ve written a fair few articles which, whilst they weren’t paid for, did manage to end up on a legit website and reach a reasonably large number of people, so that was pretty cool. I have written an article for this website, and please forgive me for being a shameless promoter but please click and read it.

Jeremy Corbyn

The article is my attempt to levy the playing field for Jeremy Corbyn by writing something nice about him. I should probably clarify, as he goes against a lot of what I write about, that I don’t actually want him to run the country, and I don’t agree with a lot of his policies.

But I am fascinated by him. For a man like him, a genuine, scruffy do-gooder of a man who would rather hang out with local people and go to his constituents citizenship ceremonies then pander to the press and attend all the official occassions … he really is something different. Whether you agree with him or not, don’t you get tired of politicians saying the same things, politicians who don’t seem to have anything to do with you?
So many people are disillusioned with politics and can’t be bothered to vote in elections because they don’t agree with the leading parties. Because they don’t feel that they represent their views. Sure some people are just lazy, or uninformed or simply don’t care, but there are a lot of people who don’t want to give their support to a candidate they don’t trust. This is at least partly why so many young people don’t tend to engage in politics, because politics has made them apathetic.

Why I like Jeremy Corbyn

And I’m personally interested in seeing Jeremy remain in parliament, not because I think he’s right, but because I think he represents the people who don’t normally get representation, and the leading party should have some decent kind of opposition even if he is a bit mad. Some say that he is incompetent, that he has crazy ideas and he abandoned England to Brexit whilst he went on a sunny holiday, and at least some of these are things are probably true. But it does appear that people really can never be satisfied.

So many people complained that the Remain campaign was pushing itself down people’s throats, that David Cameron spent tax payers money on leaflets. Some people got so sick of the constant warnings and threats that some of them voted to leave just out of spite. So how is it that the one person who didn’t do that, who didn’t make wild claims and belittled the people by giving them threats rather than actual facts, how is he suddenly the evil villain of the story?

A few newspapers have discussed this and shown that  more Labour members actually voted to remain than the Conservative party, and those that voted to leave did so because of reasons that had nothing at all to do with Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, he could have done a better job, and yes he didn’t seem that into it. Realistically, he probably wasn’t. You can’t really have his opinions and be totally in favour of the E.U. Perhaps he was hoping we’d leave. Perhaps as a man who has such strict principles, he couldn’t properly campaign for something he didn’t really support. Perhaps his main fault is that he finds it hard to lie.

Perhaps he was hoping we’d leave. Perhaps as a man who has such strict principles, he couldn’t properly campaign for something he didn’t really support. Perhaps his main fault is that he finds it hard to lie.

But he did campaign to remain, just not enough. People saw him giving talks on workers rights within the E.U and why we should have stayed in to reform it. He didn’t do it as well as he should have done, but he did so it and  we can’t know how much he actually did do because no one reported it.

I want him to remain, at least for a while longer, because I think it’s interesting to see a real difference of opinion in parliament and displayed across social media, even if it’s an opinion I don’t agree with. I want to see the parties represent different things, so people actually do have a choice. And perhaps Jeremy’s old labour socialism thing just isn’t popular enough with the majority of people, perhaps Labour itself no longer works because the world has changed and it no longer has a place in it.

The Labour Party

Perhaps if old labour can’t work anymore it’s a sign, because we don’t need a party which bases half its support on the fact it seems a bit ‘nicer’ than the Tories. I am sure there are people who really love the Labour party and believe in what it stands for today, but I don’t come across these people very often. ‘New Labour’ doesn’t seem to have the same appeal it used to, and if Labour goes back to it’s ‘Tory-lite’ image it could be years before they are re-elected.

I just feel the Labour party spends so much time saying “look, we’re not the Torie’s and you hate the Tories so you must like us”, without giving us enough of a reason to like them. I don’t feel the majority of them, including Jeremy’s contester, know what they stand for, just that it’s not the same things as Jeremy Corbyn. We need them to say what they are, not what they are not, and if they don’t know they had better start thinking. There are some things they have to agree with, because there is no way to change them. Perhaps there isn’t a good enough alternative to the tories because they actually have it all right and there is no other way, but I’m not convinced.

Maybe it’s time for a new party or several new parties. Maybe we’ll see the rise of a (real) liberal party, perhaps the greens will take over, who really knows. We would (and should)  change the electoral system, which that would involve a lot of headache and paperwork, but there are other options beyond out current brand of politics. It’s not crazy to suggest we may need to think about them at some point.

I don’t know what will happen, but I have an inkling that something has to change. Maybe Jeremy isn’t the right kind of change, but he shows that it is possible for non-Etonian champaign socialists/strict Tories to get into positions of power and at the very least, we can hope he will inspire other people to try and do the same.

 

//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?o=1&p=12&l=ur1&category=books&banner=1MH7120YTP434ANM2F82&f=ifr&linkID=744e92cc294626aba23876cbaffaa5c2&t=sophestry-20&tracking_id=sophestry-20