Saturday, 15 December 2018

books i read this autumn


Autumn has mostly been spent working to save money for my Masters. Although I have had much less spare time and less compulsory reading than at uni, I have managed to read more than usual. Here’s what I read this Autumn.

The Vanity Fair Diaries – Tina Brown

Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, shares her experiences as one of the most powerful magazine editors in 1980s New York. It’s an intriguing, often intimate book that gives an insider’s perspective on the reality of the publishing world: fast-paced, cutthroat, and at the mercy of advertisers, PR and publishers.

The Vanity Fair Diaries goes to the heart of the inner debate many women have in balancing motherhood and a career. Brown shows that you can have both without making too many sacrifices in either, but it is not easy. Impossible choices, rushed deadlines and gnawing guilt appear as Brown balances both. This is definitely an essential read for ambitious women.

Front Row: Anna Wintour – Jerry Oppenheimer

Since graduating, I’ve spent a lot of time reading books that I think will benefit my career. I first heard of Jerry Oppenheimer’s biography of Anna Wintour during my research after watching The September Issue back in 2011. I have had the book ever since, but the poor online reviews put me off reading it until now. The research for this book comes across as scattered. Oppenheimer’s sources are mostly people who do not like Wintour, or at least are not particularly close to her. I was interested in learning more about Wintour’s career trajectory, but this book cements the notion that she was largely bolstered by money and connections.

Oppenheimer covers Wintour’s childhood, her relationships with older men, stints at Harpers & Queen, Harper’s Bazaar, Viva, Savvy and New York before landing in her iconic role as editor of Vogue. He doesn’t present Wintour in a very positive light. She is portrayed as the bossy, snobby, fussy Miranda Priestly-esque alpha. It is very poorly written and one-sided. If you want to get a better understanding of Anna Wintour, watch The September Issue, don’t read this. Even The Devil Wears Prada takes a more sympathetic view of the Wintour-inspired editor: “Okay, she’s tough, but if Miranda were a man no one would notice anything about her except how great she is at her job.” I don’t like what Wintour has done with Vogue in recent years, but her impact on the fashion industry has been monumental and that has to be worth at least some respect.

Meaning in the Visual Arts – Edwin Panofsky

Lately, I’ve also been focusing on learning more about art and getting better at viewing and appreciating works of art. Since I am starting an art school next month, I don’t want to feel like I know nothing compared to everyone around me. This book discusses art, religion and architecture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The key lessons I took away from it are:

-         Humans define art in relation to what it is not and our understanding of the world and the function of objects within it. We understand that a bed functions as an object to sleep on. However, this does not mean that a bed cannot also be art e.g. Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’.
-         Iconography relies on a shared understanding of an image. Icons and what they mean vary from culture to culture. Colonialism and globalisation mean that certain iconography from Western Christianity is understood the world over, but it hasn’t always been that way.
-         Beauty comes from proportion. Panofsky argues that what makes one work of art more objectively beautiful than another is proportion. Contemporary art has disrupted this since, but we will still often be naturally drawn to proportion.
-         It was believed that the brighter a work of art, the brighter and more spiritual it made the minds of the people. This is why stain glass windows in Churches and Cathedrals are in such bright colours. However, bright colours appear in many different religious belief systems.


Journals: Early Fifties, Early Sixties – Allen Ginsberg

I remember, vividly, in first year of uni huddled in the red light of the heater of a club smoking area I drunkenly, jokingly explained to a friend why I think I’m Allen Ginsberg reincarnated. (He died the year I was born, and I relate to a lot of his writing.) It was a bit of a reach, but a year later I cemented this union I felt with the dead, Beat poet by getting a sunflower tattooed on my wrist; a nod towards his poem ‘Sunflower Sutra.’

Journals documents Ginsberg’s life as a student at Columbia, his early career and all the drugs he took. In fact, it is less of a cohesive document than a scattered hazy drug-induced stream of consciousness. We get it, you do drugs. I was disappointed because his poetry and some of his quotes in letters come so much closer to real truths instead of just reflecting Peyote highs.

Mrs. Moneypenny's Careers Advice for Ambitious Women

After reading about the lives of two successful women, Tina Brown and Anna Wintour, hoping to absorb some of their success by osmosis, my friend leant me this book because she said she thought I’d like it. Reading books like this one helps me focus my mind on my goals no matter where I am in life at the time.

The book is primarily for women who plan on setting up their own business or becoming CEOs, but as an introductory guide on how to be successful it has the potential to be life altering. Whilst it didn’t inspire me to make any changes, it did reassure me that I am taking the right step in starting a Masters in January. Higher education might be expensive (and not always necessary) but if you know what you want to do, it is worth the investment because of the confidence it gives you in your abilities. Each chapter runs through a different misconception about ambition and success:

It’s who you know, but also what you know.

You can have it all, but you can’t have it all.

At times, the book does make sweeping generalisations about women, but that feels somewhat impossible to avoid when the title is so gendered. Gendering it allows Mrs. Moneypenny to address women-specific issues though, like sexism in the workplace and balancing motherhood with a career.


Why Fashion Matters – Frances Corner

I expected this book to give me answers I could use to justify my aspirations in fashion to myself and others, but instead it lists 101 facts, ideas and questions about the industry. Corner does not argue for why fashion matters but writes about what matters and what should matter to the fashion industry. Fashion matters to history, to the environment, to our sense of self. Fashion matters in a different way to the high street shopper than it does to the couturier. We view fashion one way in the West, whereas different cultures and religions around the world view it in different ways. Fashion education can be a powerful force for change, but we still have a long way to go.

In particular, Corner looks at how fashion history can predict the future of fashion. She predicts that fashion’s focus on sustainability will only grow stronger. I would not recommend this book if you are looking for an in-depth analysis of the fashion industry. However, as a book to own for research and referencing purposes, it is straightforward and easy to navigate. A few extracts:

·         “Fashion is the most immediate and intimate form of self-expression.”
·         “…of any industry fashion has the greatest range of stages involved in the making of its products.”
·         “If fashion is selling us a dream, why does it make us feel so inadequate?”
·         “Yuniya Kawamura, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, writes: “Fashion may be socially frivolous, but it is not sociologically trivial.””
·         “…we sometimes enter the fairy-tale world of The Emperor’s New Clothes when just because we are told something is fashionable and worth more, we believe it to be so.”
·         “Politics, intellectual engagement and fashion are not mutually exclusive.”
·         “The fashion industry needs to be careful about how it cultivates, nurtures and sustains creative talent; stretching an individual’s creativity beyond what is humanly possible risks killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”
·         “Most fashion insiders remain unwilling to take responsibility for the dangerous game being played with self-esteem.”
·         “How often do we convince ourselves that we need something when really we just want it and we want it because it’s currently fashionable?”


The Art of Understanding Art: a New Perspective – Hugh Moss

I bought this at the Met in New York when I visited in August as part of my aim to learn more about art. It’s a perfect guide for starting to understand art; how to view it, its function and how the art industry works. Despite exploring consciousness, theory and aesthetics, this book is easy to read and understand. There is also a lot of information about Chinese art, as that is what Moss specialises in.

I did enjoy this book, but, two months after reading it, I remember few of its arguments. I don’t think our relationship with and gut reaction to art can be taught. However, Moss explains how you can open yourself up to visual art in order to be more receptive.

Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy is a writer I have been meaning to get into for a long time. I used to go on a lot of family holidays to Dorset, where I’d seek out independent bookstores where his books were everywhere. I started reading Jude the Obscure as a set text at university, but never finished it. I bought Far From the Madding Crowd when I was 15, after reading that it was one of Morrissey’s favourite books. Anyway, I finally got around to reading it in October and it has tropes of a classic Victorian romance; a rural setting, rushed marriages and abrupt changes of fortune. It is beautifully written and more gripping that I had expected.

Devotion – Patti Smith

Patti Smith is my favourite person ever. I heard about Devotion on her Instagram and knew I had to read it. It did not seem to be publicised as much as M Train. Perhaps because it is predominantly fiction rather than memoir. The short story is one of infatuation, ambition and coming-of-age. Admittedly, my favourite parts were the beginning and end, where Smith describes her writing process.

Smith asks, “Why is one compelled to write? To set oneself apart, cocooned, rapt in solitude, despite the want of others. Virginia Woolf had her room. Proust his shuttered windows. Marguerite Duras her muted house. Dylan Thomas his modest shed. All seeking an emptiness to imbue with words. The words that will penetrate virgin territory, crack unclaimed combinations, articulate the infinite.”

Misery – Stephen King

My first Stephen King novel. I think this is one of my favourite books I’ve read this year. The premise of the book is that a writer is held hostage by his “number one fan” and forced to write a sequel to her favourite novel. If you love books, writing and gory psychological horror, this one’s for you.

On being a writer: “Writers remember everything...especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he'll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar. Art consists of the persistence of memory.” 


In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the City of Life – Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide

I read How to be Parisian last year, and this feels like it follows on from that. The French girl aesthetic is so overused by clickbaity fashion articles, but this book offers a refreshing take; interviewing real women and showing that, in Paris, women are as multifaceted as they are in any other part of the world. It contains over 100 photographs and functions as both a love letter to one of the world’s most loved cities and a rough guide to places only the locals know about.

The book features fashion designers, journalists, artists and businesswomen. Sylvia Whitman, the proprietor of the famous Shakespeare & Company bookstore and daughter of its founder, tells Damas and Bastide how she loves cycling around the city and walking along the banks of the Seine early in the morning or late at night. She says, “Here, everything revolves around poetry.”

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath – Sylvia Plath

Another writer’s journal. “I like people too much or not at all,” Plath blurts out. “I’ve got to go down deep, to fall into people, to really know them.” Her journals are scattered with such quotable lines that transcend time, relating to the human experience as much today as they did when they were written over 50 years. “…remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it.”

Plath runs through her own catalogue of anxieties about her writing, her relationships, her mental illness and how she plans to make money. Though made up of her private journals, Plath’s writing is still detailed, creative and cohesive.

“Someone, somewhere can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much – so very much to learn – “

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself – Michael A. Singer

This was one of my first forays into the world of self-help books. I made sure I was armed with a highlighter whenever I read it, so I could highlight the key points. I read it on recommendation from my counsellor and I could spot my own thinking patterns being discussed throughout.

The Untethered Soul blends Western psychology with Eastern spiritualism. Singer uses Freud’s psychology and yogic Raharma Maharshi’s teachings to explore the essence of the self. The self is something we lose sight of when we become too caught up in our thoughts. Singer argues that the voice talking inside your head, your constant inner monologue, telling you your thoughts, is not you. It is just a voice talking inside your head:

“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice in your mind- you are the one who hears it.”

Life is out of our control. Whatever the voice in your head is saying does not matter. It will not change what actually happens. So, why listen to it?

“The bottom line is, the sun will come up and the sun will go down. Billions of things are going on in this world. You can think about it all you want, but life is going to keep on happening.”

The main reason you listen to the voice in your head is because it gives you a false sense of having some sort of control over the world:

“If you can’t get the world the way you like it, you internally verbalise it, judge it, complain about it, and then decide what to do about it. This makes you feel more empowered.”

And your mind acts as a defence mechanism:

“You will be forced to constantly use your mind to buffer yourself from life, instead of living it.”

The book does become more complicated and I had to remind myself not to put too much pressure on myself to live by its principles. The parts I have quoted here are from the sections I found the most useful. I find approaches to self-improvement fascinating and would recommend this book to anyone who suffers from anxiety.


Let me know what you have been reading in the comments.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

fashion and #metoo: what fashion means for survivors of sexual assault

Lady Gaga at Elle's Women in Hollywood Awards via Hollywood Reporter

Trigger Warning: sexual assault mention, eating disorder mention, self-harm mention

Our lives are punctuated with clothing encased in memory. Clothes evoke nostalgia, a feeling, a longing. From our childhood fashion obsessions and cringe-worthy faux pas to the jumpers left behind by ex-boyfriends and the statement items that endure through the years. The contents of our wardrobes, past and present, represent something about ourselves and how we wish to be perceived by the world. Fashion, though its personal associations remain, has also become part of a larger movement. It no longer simply about individuals, but stretches beyond this into public conversations about important issues. At this year’s Golden Globes, black was reimagined not as a colour of mourning, but as a colour of solidarity. Attendees eschewed attention grabbing colours and wore black to support the Time’s Up movement, which aims to end sexual harassment in Hollywood and society overall. 

Historically, clothing has had an uncomfortable relationship with harassment. I was twelve-years-old the first time a man shouted at me from his van. I was walking back from a guitar lesson and I cried when I got home because I thought I had done something wrong. Were the jeggings I was wearing too tight? Should I have dressed in baggier clothes? What did I do to provoke it? In October, a House of Commons report declared that street harassment is ‘routine and relentless’ for women and girls. The news came just days after it was revealed that one in three girls is sexually harassed in public whilst wearing school uniform. Pornography is more at fault than fashion for the sexualisation of school uniforms, but that does not let fashion off the hook for the mass fetishization of teenage girls.

Fashion glorifies youth to a paedophilic extent, glamorising the bodies of pubescent girls. High fashion models traditionally have narrow hips and flat chests. Most start out in their teens before their bodies have fully developed. Though perceived as a female industry, the majority of fashion’s CEOs, shareholders and business leaders are still men. It is easy to see why this is an issue when fashion still represents only one type of woman; pretty, white, and sometimes frighteningly thin. In the Spring 2019 shows older models and larger body types were still vastly underrepresented. Models are presented to us like products with the message that young, slim, pretty women are worth our attention, whilst others are to be discarded and silenced.

Lady Gaga addressed the issue of media objectification in her inspiring speech on sexual assault and mental health at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event in October. “We are not just objects to entertain the world,” she said, “We are not simply images to bring smiles or grimaces to people’s faces. We are not members of a giant beauty pageant, meant to be pit against one another for the pleasures of the public.” This rings true for models in the fashion industry as much as it does for women in Hollywood. Female objectification in fashion and media dehumanises girls and women and this contributes to the mentality that means men think it is okay to harass schoolgirls in public. Gaga’s message was that we should pay attention to what women have to say, not just what they wear, but she also articulated the significance of fashion for survivors of sexual assault. “In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut,” she said. The suit in question, a grey oversized Marc Jacobs piece, reduced Gaga to tears. Our emotional response to clothes can be incredibly powerful. For Gaga this suit represented reclaiming her body in the wake of trauma. In an industry where ‘Who Wore it Better’ lists reduce women to objects, making a sartorial decision to carve her own space was a bold one.

Gaga is no stranger to carving out a unique space in the fashion world. In the late noughties, her outrageous outfits filled newspaper columns, becoming as famous, if not more famous, than her music. Whether she’s wearing a wild Philip Treacy hat or Alexander McQueen armadillo shoes, Gaga knows how to serve a look. She reached peak headline bait at the 2010 VMAs when she wore her infamous meat dress. One interpretation of the dress, designed by Franc Fernandez, is that it was a feminist statement about how women should not be treated like pieces of meat. As she said herself at the awards, “If we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones. I am not a piece of meat.” It seems as though Gaga’s relationship with fashion has shifted as she has opened up about her assault. Her outfits have become less attention-grabbing, even though the emotional meaning she ascribes to clothes has not waned. Now, she uses fashion as a means through which to talk about her pain. Unfortunately, Gaga was proved right about the media valuing a woman’s appearance more than her words when her Marc Jacobs suit made more headlines than her speech. Although it revealed a meaningful link between fashion and words, her outfit should not have become secondary to what she was saying. Sexual assault and mental health are urgent global issues which must be addressed. Gaga used clothing to lead onto this topic, yet whenever she mentioned fashion, the audience laughed. Despite the gravity of her message, fashion, a traditionally feminine interest, is still deemed laughable and frivolous. At no point does the discussion of her outfit trivialise the message of her speech. It only proves the vitality of clothing as part of recovery. We all have to get dressed every day. Why not make sure we wear what makes us feel most authentically ourselves?

Trauma and psychiatric disorders can change our relationship with fashion. Summers are no longer carefree days of t-shirts and sundresses, but of sweltering discomfort, because all that matters is hiding the scars on your arms and legs. What should be a joyful and creative exploration of the self through clothing becomes a minefield. Clothing sizes and their irregularity from store to store are triggering when you live with an eating disorder. Trying on clothes thus becomes a source of great anxiety. This is why Lady Gaga’s outfit is more than just a fashion statement. It is a beacon of hope. Being comfortable in yourself and your body is possible after surviving trauma. It might make you cry, but it can remind you who you are. Gaga reclaims baggy clothing; a style that is so often symbolic of insecurity and hiding your body. She reimagines it as a route to empowerment; a way to be listened to rather than merely looked at.

However, the fashion industry has not always been a welcoming environment for survivors of sexual assault. There have been accusations against many of the industry’s leading photographers, revealing how little protection there is for young models against influential and predatory men. Vogue suspended Bruce Weber and Mario Testino following several accusations against both, but fashion’s #MeToo journey is far from over. Fashion Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld revealed everything that is wrong with fashion’s attitude towards models when he said, “If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent.” The fashion industry’s overwhelming gender imbalance in power means that men are leveraging their power to silence accusations. Models fear that they will lose jobs if they do not do as they are told; many of them too young to know what is and isn’t normal in the industry. British High Street giant Philip Green is the latest to face harassment claims. He reportedly paid a seven-figure sum to try and keep his name out of the press. For too long men like Green have been untouchable, but now we can hope that his time really is up.

Another reason why fashion is not a nurturing environment for assault survivors is its reverence of extreme thinness. The normalisation of low body weight in fashion validates disordered eating behaviours. Models were particularly thin at Hedi Slimane’s Celine debut. Phoebe Philo’s strong, independent Céline woman was replaced by a series of emaciated party girls. That is not to say that strong, independent women cannot enjoy partying. Women are multifaceted and the fact that our dress can reflect that is what makes fashion so exciting. You can be a professional businesswoman one minute and a dancing queen the next. However, Hedi’s vision for Celine did not reflect this. It felt jarringly one dimensional. We want to see a future where fashion empowers and unites women.

Women’s suits are one trend that has done just that. This season, they have taken a rapid leap into the mainstream. No longer the reserve of conservative offices, the modern suit is definitely not about trying to fit into a man’s world. The 1980s power dressing movement, with shoulder pads galore, was partly about changing women’s bodies to make them appear bigger in stature in order not to seem physically smaller, thus weaker than men in business situations. Unlike the ‘80s, the 21st century suit moment is repositioning women on their own terms. A greater range of shapes, colours, fabrics, and fits mean that your suit can be as sumptuously feminine, wildly creative or fiercely androgynous as you would like. Today it is rare for a trend to come into fashion that is truly original, but women have more freedom than ever to dress how they choose. And there is a lot of choice. These choices inform the world of who we are. There is power in that, but it can also have darker consequences, especially for women.

Fashion does not exist in a vacuum. It is one of the quickest ways to make a snap judgement about someone. We form subconscious associations, but this can be problematic. In 2011, a Toronto police officer was recorded saying that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” in order to avoid sexual assault. Rightful outrage ensued, and women wondered what “dressing like a slut” even means. Are children victims of abuse because they are “dressing like sluts”? What about teenage schoolgirls, two out of three of which have experienced street harassment whilst wearing school uniform? What about the one in six men that are sexually assaulted? Any link between clothing and sexual harassment is not only nonsensical but also dangerously sexist. From Toronto, SlutWalk was born. SlutWalk is an event in which thousands of women, and men, march to end rape culture. Many dress as if they were going on a night out, with the bravest even marching in lingerie. SlutWalk popularised slogans like “Little black dress does not mean yes” and “Whatever I wear, wherever I go, yes means yes and no means no.” The event has expanded and now takes place in cities across the world.


Fashion has always been a part of movements. Armies wear uniforms, cultures are differentiated by their dress and political parties have colours. Today we wear black in solidarity with Time’s Up like the Suffragettes wore white, purple and green a century before us. Women do continue to be judged for what they wear, but this can be just as liberating as it has historically been oppressive. When we acknowledge the power of fashion and harness it, we can spread an important message and change the world. So, in the words of Lady Gaga: Amen fashion.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

my 2018 journal


A couple of years ago I wrote about how I journal. The journal I have filled this year is my personal journal where I write about my life, generate ideas and make collages. How you document in your own journal is entirely down to you. You can do whatever you want with it. It can be a place for all your private thoughts and dreams, and creative freedom stems from that. In previous years I have tried to make my journals cohesive or have them stick to a theme, but 2018 has been a bit all over the place for me and my journal reflects that. 

The first half of the year is pretty scattered and there are a lot of half-attempted CBT exercises and gratitude lists. There are drawings, doodles, and collages. I write down my ideas for blog posts, short stories and articles. The second half, from summer onwards, includes more visuals as I create collages to try to figure my way through graduate life. 

I have read a couple of journals by writers I admire this year: Allen Ginsberg and Sylvia Plath. I was disappointed with Ginsberg’s. It was all over the place. We get it, you do drugs. However, Plath’s was much more enlightening, and I envy how her writing flows so gracefully even in her private journals. It took me a long time to read, but I would definitely recommend it to any aspiring writers/Sylvia Plath fans.

WINTER

My 2018 journal started halfway through January this year when I was working on assignments for my final year at uni. I was listening to the entire Velvet Underground discography on Spotify, including the 7-hour-long anniversary edition of Loaded, writing an essay on Andy Warhol and eating a lot of subpar egg cress sandwiches from the library cafe. 


SELF-CARE

In 2018, I really tried to dedicate more time to self-care. Here are some snippets from my journal:

"Breathe. Keep working at the pace you are going at and you will be fine.

I am trying to practice acceptance; to change what I can but recognise that sometimes all the meditation/exercise/fresh air in the world won't change my mood immediately. It's about habit and routine but not punishing yourself when things don't go as planned.

Be proud of yourself for wanting to take care of yourself.

I feel ready to look after myself: do yoga, have a bath, put on a face mask, read magazines, buy some new clothes. I need to rebuild my inner world."



FILMS I WATCHED

The Florida Project was the first film I saw at the cinema in 2018. I saw it at my favourite cinema in Sheffield, Showroom. I used to go there all the time at uni, and I miss it a lot. The Florida Project was incredibly moving. Brooklynn Prince was excellent as Moonee and the last scene sticks in my mind all these months later. It’s at the top of my list of films I need to rewatch in 2019.


I saw Loving Vincent with my mum when she came to visit me in Sheffield. Aesthetically, it was a great achievement, as the entire film is made from an oil painted animation. However, I felt uncomfortable about its representation of Van Gogh. It is the same uneasy feeling I had reading Sylvia Plath's journals. When artists kill themselves, critics and the public turn them into these tortured souls to fit into our own societal understanding of suicide, but both saw so much beauty in the world and were too multifaceted to be reduced to their sadness. Here’s what I wrote about Loving Vincent in my journal:

The animation was incredible, and it was a very moving film. The plot could have been better though. I had hoped that in 2017/18 writers would be more capable of writing about depression. Though the attitudes reflect the lack of understanding in Van Gogh’s time, they do not sit well. ‘Melancholia’, the contemporary word for depression, is only mentioned once towards the end of the film by a doctor who explains how it is certainly possible for a person to go from calm to suicidal in a matter of hours, but the point just hangs in the air. For the rest of the film, Van Gogh’s death is investigated like a murder mystery. The Van Gogh tortured artist myth is romanticised so much as it is. The doctor accuses the other characters of focusing too much on his death rather than his life, which is something the whole film is guilty of. I’m sure Van Gogh wouldn’t want to be remembered for his sadness, but for his vision, his talent, his hope- even if in his final days it turned to hopelessness.


Call Me By Your Name was without a doubt the best film I watched this year. I have watched it 5 or 6 times since February and I read the book for the first time over summer. Most of the soundtrack is on my top Spotify songs for this year. It is such a perfect representation of the highs and lows of first love; the intensity of our formative experiences of romance. I often put it on even if I do not have time to watch the whole film, just to slip back into Elio and Oliver's endless Italian summer for a while.

One of my favourite scenes and my favourite quote from the book is when Elio's father tells him not to close himself off from love in order to get over it faster. When I went through my first serious breakup later in the year, I wrote this quote in my journal as a reminder to myself when getting over someone: "We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything- what a waste!" 

Also, I had a dream the other night that I met Timothée Chalamet and got him to sign this page.


I saw Lady Bird in March. I came out of the cinema into the dark late-winter night feeling a lingering emotional hangover from all that the film had evoked within me. Everything that happened afterwards felt so significant, but at the same time, surreal, like I was in my own coming-of-age film. I went to a friend’s house for a few drinks and tipsily tried to explain how much the film meant to me. One of my friends drank a bottle of vodka because she found out the boy that she liked didn’t like her back. The next day, my mum rang me to tell me that my nan had died that night. 


I saw Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again at the start of summer and spent weeks fantasising about Greece, love and ‘70s clothes. It was the start of the heatwave that swept across the UK and turned all our memories into a hot, happy haze.


Extracts from the Charolastra Manifesto from Y Tu Mama Mambien; one of my favourite summer films.

Do whatever you feel.

Forget morals  and rules!


Truth is cool but unattainable. 



BLOG POSTS


From this blog post on nudity in fashion magazines. 


From this post about recovering from an eating disorder as a fashion lover.



SUMMER



A lot happened in August. I went through a breakup, visited New York for the first time and turned 21. Luckily, there are plenty of songs about getting over someone in New York. This page has lyrics from St. Vincent’s ‘New York’ and The Cranberries’ ‘Twenty One.’ Whenever I am visiting somewhere new, I hold onto all of the tickets and leaflets and stock up on postcards to stick in my journal. I look at these pages and they take me back to those swelteringly hot final days as a 20-year-old, exploring New York.


Before my 18th birthday I made a Rookie Forever themed journal page. As twenty-one is another significant birthday I recreated it, using words from Tavi’s Work in Progress editor’s letter. 


From my first visit to the Met and the Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibition.


We spent my birthday at Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village, where the Beat poets used to give readings. It was probably my favourite place in New York. 

AUTUMN



I have journaled more this Autumn than any other time this year. From September I have had various temping jobs to save money for my masters. I'm tired when I get home, but long for a creative outlet, so that is what these pages are. Each remind me of a certain time over the past few months; of secret dreams, fantasies and feelings. Below each picture is some writing from a similar time.


I like the idea of drifting in and out of people's lives, but I wish I didn't always give so much away. It leaves me feeling like I've left a part of myself with them and not everyone deserves that.


But there are moments...that strange magic that makes it worth it.


I spent September exploring art that was about fear in order to come to terms with my anxiety; to try and accept it in my life rather than fight against it. Pulp’s ‘The Fear’ describes a mid-life crisis, but Jarvis Cocker sings, “When you can’t even think what it is that you’re frightened of, this song will be here.” It articulates that uneasy, lost feeling when life feels off-kilter. 

I wrote a lot about fear at this time. It's something I'm still coming to terms with, but I recently read The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer which has helped. Some of the ideas are quite complex and seem impossible to put into practice, but it is an easy enough read and has changed my perspective somewhat. 


Anne Sexton said that books are the people who never leave. I have been thinking a lot about people leaving recently. I listen to 'Fevers and Mirrors' on the way to work most days. It opens with a child reading a book about a dinosaur who is moving away. The theme of loss continues throughout. One year from now nothing will be the same. Each morning when I leave the house I am leaving behind the person I was when I woke up. I've been listening to 'This is the Day' a lot to remind myself that life can change at any moment and I will never go back to being the person I am when I wake up by the time I have started my car.


Being a party girl like that no longer appeals to me. I'm going places now. It doesn't matter if I get lonely sometimes because it IS lonely at the top and the top is where I'm going and I no longer fuck with anyone who tries to hold me back.


Kerouac was really onto something when he said IT'S ALL TOO MUCH AND NOT ENOUGH AT THE SAME TIME.


DOUBT IS THE PRECURSOR TO FEAR.


Lately, I've felt happiest when I'm on my yoga mat before 8am.


With perspective comes hope, new resolutions and contentedness.



REMINDERS:
NO WRITING IS A WASTE OF TIME. IT'S ALL PRACTICE.
RELAX. YOU HAVE A FUTURE.
YOU DON'T NEED ANYONE BUT YOU WILL MEET THE RIGHT PERSON ONE DAY.
WHEN IN DOUBT, DO YOGA. 

POETRY


I didn't write as much poetry as I would have liked to this year. I chose my dissertation over another creative writing module so had no deadlines to force me to find inspiration. However, I did get published in my university's literary journal which led to my first ever poetry reading in front of other poets.