Flo la vita

Lifestyle and Think Pieces

From a young age I have always been somewhat aware of my opinions and I’ve never shied away from vocalising my thoughts to the people close to me. Whilst some of my opinions are less well-formed than others, the one belief that I have always advocated - no matter what -  is the belief that people should be treated equally, whatever their sex. To put it simply - I’ve always believed in feminism. 

Feminism was something I first became properly aware of at the age of twelve. Immediately I took an interest and began to consider myself as a feminist. To me it seemed like an no-brainer. I believed in equal rights and was conscious, to some extent, of the inequalities and issues women and young girls faced globally. So why shouldn’t I be a feminist? 


By definition, a feminist is ‘a person who supports feminism’. Whilst I’m aware that, for some, referring to yourself as a ‘feminist’ can seem daunting (especially for those who aren't yet certain of their political beliefs)  I’ve been wondering lately, why so many people who support the movement are so reluctant to call themselves feminists?

In some sense, I think there is a sense that the term should be reserved for those activiely promoting the cause, which makes people disinclined to refer to themselves as feminists. Maybe, associated with feminism there is some kind of notion that you must be attending women’s marches, reading feminist literature and openly spreading the feminist message. The idea that unless you’re actively trying to make a difference, you're not a ‘real’ feminist is one I am very much inclined to disagree with. From my perspective, feminism means something different to each and every person, according to their own experiences of life. Therefore, how you go about being a feminist is something each and every person will do differently. Whether you want to be the kind of feminist taking more extreme measures in the fight for equality, or if you’re a quieter feminist who chooses to make smaller changes - wherever on the spectrum you choose to place yourself, you’re still a ‘real’ feminist.  As the definition states, a feminist is simply ‘a person who supports feminism’.


Amongst the misinterpretations and fear of commitment to the movement, I’ve also recently noticed a sense of shame from a lot of girls who support the movement, which leads to them refraining from calling themselves a feminist. This is something, I am ashamed to say, that I am guilty of myself. Just the other day I was asked if I identified as a feminist and I frowned and shook my head. After doing so I instantly felt a pang of guilt, simply because I realised if we aren't open about our political beliefs then how can we expect change?

I think, for me, the reason for denying my feminist beliefs was because of the judgemental tone the guy who asked me so clearly had in his voice. I feared that admitting to believing that I should be treated the same as my male counterparts would prompt streams of questions and, of course, judgement. This is a clear reminder that the stereotypes society have created surrounding the feminist movement aren't something of the past. The misinterpretations and ideas that feminists are purely angry women, burning their bras isn’t just something of the just suffragette era, the stereotype very much lives on today. 


The judgement that follows on from these completely ridiculous stereotypes has caused me to deny identifying as a feminist and has no doubt caused other likeminded people to do the same. The problem is as much the stereotypes as it is people like me giving in to that fear of judgement. If we continue to pretend we aren't feminists, simply because of the incorrect ideas others have of the movement, then we are essentially giving in to the patriarchy and those who choose to believe in these stereotypes will never see just how much feminism positively impacts everyone. I say, if you are a feminist, champion that title.
Ever since I started to take an interest in the Feminist movement, I knew that the pressure to appear macho and hide vulnerability was something that very much existed for males. I became suddenly aware of how clearly this pressure had left its mark on each and every boy I knew, and of course how it had influenced them to bottle up every emotion they felt that wasn’t deemed ‘manly’ but todays society, or any society for that matter.


However, it was only when searching out a new cleanser at my local Superdrug that I was prompted to question what was at the root of this problem. I’d noticed the difference in packaging and marketing techniques of the cleansers displayed, depending on which gender they were targeted towards. 

The women’s cleansers sat together on their shelf, most of them pink and giving out some sort of message of femininity. On the next shelf the mens cleansers were displayed. One particular cleanser that struck a chord with me was “Bulldog: skincare for men.”

I concluded that the reason for the difference in marketing was gender stereotypes. But, the clear difference in marketing techniques got me questioning what impact mens products conforming to male stereotypes has on mens mental health. And, if marketing health products in this way is adding to the pressure on men not to manifest vulnerability or any emotion other than anger. 


From a stereotypical perspective, skincare isn’t deemed ‘manly’ so in some sense naming a men’s skincare brand “Bulldog” is a smart move on companies side as it takes away some of the shame associated with men buying skincare products and it makes something deemed ‘feminine’ more acceptable to men. Not only that, using stereotypes in this way appeals to a mass audience, so essentially its in the brands interest to support these stereotypes as doing so means more cash for them. 

These products are so clearly a result of the gender stereotypes inflicted on us. But, my theory is that way we market these particular products adds to the pressure and further encourages men to hide their true emotions. 

The marketing of mens products is only a small factor leading up to this problem, and most likely not something many of us consider or think twice about. But advertising is something that surrounds us in our day to day lives and something that, with the rise of social media, is becoming impossible to escape. So, the idea that men can only appear tough really is forced upon us and does create a toxic stereotype that the vast majority of men feel they have to live up to. 

The thing that bothers me is that this is something we’re finally starting to have conversations about. We’re finally telling men that its okay for them to cry, show emotion and admit to feeling vulnerable. Yet, we continue to enforce a stereotype and in doing so enforce a pressure on men and young boys to hide such feelings, through the marketing of male products. 


Each of these products adds to pressure to appear a certain way and not display any feeling of vulnerability. They teach men to hide emotion and ‘man up.’ But, in the words of the absolute queen that is Paloma Faith herself, “You don’t have to man up, that phrase kinda sucks.” I say we all take a leaf out of Paloma’s book.

But, jokes aside, this is a real problem affecting the mentality of so many men in today’s society. The marketing of male products is just one factor amongst an uncountable number of others leading to this pressure to be seen as macho. But, combined with advertising and the the way men are represented in the media, its one that we see all the time. I say we stop enforcing this stereotype upon men and let them manifest their real emotions.
Scrolling through my Instagram feed I'm met with outfit photo after outfit photo, chai latte after chai latte and quite frankly, I'm bored...

You see, lately I've become aware of just how much people are actually sharing online. That constant need to update their profile’s on what they're doing, where they are, who they're with. The list goes on and on and on.
Being someone who, by todays standards, is anti-social (I can't remember the last time I opened Instagram just to post what I was doing on my story) the whole culture of sharing, or over-sharing on social media is something I find quite difficult to wrap my head around.


Saying this, I am conscious that I'm sounding like a bit of a dick. Of course I'm guilty of sharing a couple of slightly narcissistic selfies on social media, but the question that's been playing on my mind recently is why we share what we do?

After a lot of thought, I've come to the conclusion that over-sharing on Instagram is more than just a habit, rather a subconscious search for validation. Maybe we post our selfie’s when we feel like shit because we know that the likes and flattering comments will make us feel better. Maybe we post photos of our avocado toast (I know, so millennial) because we desperately want to seem like we've got our shit together, when really its been a long day and all you want is to curl up on the sofa with a dominos takeaway. Maybe we over-share because we just want the validation. And the more we share the more validation we get. But, my theory is that at some point we start depending on the validation of our followers in order to feel ‘worthy’.

That reassurance of our own personal worth, or validation as I've been referring to it, is exactly what we get. Our followers shower each and every one of our photos in compliments, and we do the same back to them. Over and over.


We comment and tell them just how great their life is looking.
In reality, I don't give a flying fuck about what Sally in Sussex is having for dinner. But still, I proceed to tell her just how delicious her sushi looks. Why? Truth be told, I don't know.
Maybe its out of habit? That's the etiquette on Instagram? Or maybe I just want to affiliate myself with that persons sugar-coated, seemingly perfect lifestyle?

I know, suggesting that I want to affiliate myself with someone else's 'perfect' life not only makes me sound delusional (we all know Instagram is a highlights reel when we think about it), but also incredibly insecure. However, I know I'm not alone in this. I know I'm not the only one who comments any old bollocks on strangers posts just to be nice. But, I'm also not suggesting that the 1 billion people using Instagram are all insecure losers, constantly updating their profiles in a never ending search for more and more validation.




So, what does make us share so much online? And what is it that makes us feel a pressure to reassure fellow Instagram users that 'yeah, you're doing okay'? Like I've said, I don't know. I don't know why I do it, let alone why every other person does it. But, I do know that its not necessarily the most productive way to spend my time online. So think about it, whilst you're updating your story. Why are you sharing it? Is it for validation?
Having a proper skincare routine never used to be something I deemed important. Two years ago if you'd told me I had to actually cleanse and moisturise my skin I would have laughed in your face and told you that simply removing my make-up was enough for me.

But, times have changed and as I welcomed the oh so dreaded teenage spots into my life, a skincare routine quickly proved necessary. However, that's not to say I didn't struggle with finding a routine that worked for me. 

Whilst my skincare routine has become somewhat of a ritual for me within the last year or so, I would be lying if I told you I wasn't fickle when it came to the products I used. Always swapping and switching them, never settling on one thing. While this was partly down to the fact that I hadn't found a routine that worked for me, it was also because I didn't have a clue what my skin needed or what each product would actually do.

This year one of my New Years resolutions was to clear my skin and find myself a good routine. Being the eager egg I am, I started early and spent December reading up on what products were actually going to rid me of my spots, trialling different products and formulating a routine that worked for me. Now, I think I've got it down to a T, and for the first time I'm actually noticing a real difference in my skin. 


CLEANSE

After removing my make-up, I always cleanse using Neutrogena's visibly clear pore & shine daily wash. Not a day has gone by when I haven't used this, it leaves my skin feeling so fresh and glowy, completely getting rid of that nasty greasy feeling. I do this is the morning and evening.


SCRUB

Face scrubs had never been a must for me until I discovered Neutrogena's visibly clear pink grapefruit daily scrub. It gently exfoliates the skin, however, its firm enough for you to tell that its working. The strong smell of Grapefruit is also perfect for waking you up each morning. 

MOISTURISE

Neautrogena's visibly clear pink grapefruit oil free moisturiser is a product I've recently come to live by. The fact that it's oil free was a game changer for me, seeing as in the past I've felt held back by the  greasy-ness of moisturisers after applying. As its oil free it absorbs much quicker  and leaves you skin feeling completely fresh and ready to go after use. However, being oil free it is harder for the product to reach all of your skin. But, its without a doubt the best I've ever used. 




TONER

Toner is something else I didn't realise the importance of until Pixi kindly gifted me some of their new toners, including the iconic Pixi glow tonic. Seeing this product all over my Instagram feed, I'll admit that I didn't understand what all the fuss was about, but after trying it for myself I've been converted. I am now an avid lover of Pixi. 

As for what the Glow Tonic actually does, it tones, firms and tightens the skin and my god, you can tell its working.

    *Pixi Glow tonic was kindly gifted to me by the team at Pixi.


LIGHT THERAPY

One thing I didn't anticipate would help my skin just as much as it has is Neutrogena's visibly clear light therapy targeted acne spot treatment . This was given to me as a Christmas present, and if I'm honest I wouldn't have even considered buying it myself, as I wouldn't expect it to work just as well as it has. But, after using it twice a day, two minutes on each problem area, for quite a while now I can safely say that it has worked pure wonders for my skin.

There are red and blue lights which use energy to gently filter through the skin and target acne-causing bacteria, reducing the appearance of spots. The blue lights directly target acne-causing bacteria, whilst the red lights reduce inflammation.






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What you might not know from just reading my blog is that I a bit of an interior lover. Meaning, I take great pride in making sure that my area is decorated and styled in a way that I like. I thrive off of that feeling you get when you walk into a room that is just so gorgeous and I could spend hours on end arranging and re-arranging different areas of my room.

My desk, in particular, is an area that I love to re-style every now and again. Possibly because I get bored of it the quickest, which isn't surprising seeing as I spend such long periods of time sat at it. I feel like theres always something that could be added to make it that extra bit pretty, which is always apparent to me after having a nosy at Kate La Vie's office - seriously, how does she have such a good eye for styling?


I've spent hours looking at Pinterest-worthy homes and work spaces online and have taken inspiration  from just about everywhere in order to create my own work space that feels very me. And now, after many H&M home orders I feel like I've succeeded in creating my very own, very pretty, desk area.



The Gold Mirror from H&M home, which I have placed on a stack of magazines along side my Oliver Bonas candle, feels like the focal point of the work top. It stands out from the otherwise fairly neutral background, which I love. 

Around this whole section, if you will, there are pops of gold against the black and white of the magazines and the one book. When styling it like this, the black and gold coming together was something I never intended to happen, it was more of a coincidence that they went so well together. And if I'm honest, a bit of a surprise. If you had asked me two months ago if I thought black and gold would look good together I would have laughed at you, but I'm actually loving this combination.


To go along with the black and white books, is this Desenio print. The simplicity of the print is something I appreciate, as I wouldn't choose to hang something much busier up there purely because the actual desk already has a relatively cluttered feel to it.
But, its a gorgeous piece which fills the wall space perfectly.





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