In the past few weeks I have seen a lot of posts on social media and blogs from girls I consider beautiful and flawless admitting that they don’t like the way they look. Having spent my whole life feeling self-conscious about my weight and bad skin, it really struck a chord with me. In one way it was almost comforting to know that these gorgeous women who have hundreds of followers on Instagram and look amazing in every picture they share are plagued by the same worries and anxieties that I am.
On the other hand, it also made me stop and question why we put so much pressure on ourselves to look a certain way. When I think back to my teenage years, I can’t remember a time I didn’t compare my looks to that of other women, be it the popular girls at school or actresses on TV and in films. With the rise of social media, and in particular photo sharing sites such as Instagram, there seems to be an increasing feeling among young people that they have to present a certain image of themselves to the world.
Interestingly I know quite a few of my friends who don’t like getting their photo taken. They will look at pictures taken on nights out or special occasions and say they look awful. Until recently I didn’t realise that I also do this. Looking back over recent pictures I found myself disliking how I looked in every single one.
It was that attitude that inspired this post. I wanted to try to boost my self-esteem and show myself that despite my imperfections, I can look nice in a photograph. I decided to share a recent picture of me that I quite like.
At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I like this photo because I actually look happy. It was taken on a day trip to Stirling and it was one of the first times I had felt properly happy in months. I also like my hair in this picture, especially the wash-out blue streaks I had sprayed in that morning. I might not look perfect, but that’s because I’m not. I’m nearly 30 so of course I have crow’s-feet. Instead of focusing on that as a sign of ageing, I want to see it as a sign of maturity, of gaining life experience and wisdom.
All of us have something about ourselves that we would like to change. I think it’s human nature to never be one hundred perfect satisfied with how we look. I know I am always going to wish I was thinner and had better hair, but instead of letting this get to me I am going to try to accept my imperfections and realise that, given the right light and angle, I can look okay in a photo.
It’s nearly June, which means we will be in the sixth month of the year. Am I alone in feeling like we have reached this point really quickly?
To be fair, the year started out quite slow. January and February seemed to last forever. Since March, however, the months have been speeding by. Maybe it is the lighter nights and mornings, but spring 2017 has been something of a whirlwind. In some ways I hope the weeks continue to pass quickly. I have a whole week off in July, my first full week this year, and I am so ready for it. On the other hand, the faster the months go in the sooner it is to my 30th birthday. I don’t think I’m quite ready to hit that milestone yet. Continue reading “2017 So Far”
The One Memory of Flora Banks came to my attention one lunch time when an email from publishers Penguin popped up on my screen. The premise of the book – a girl who has amnesia but remembers kissing a boy at a party – had me intrigued and after reading the first chapter I was eager to read more.
That initial chapter vividly captured the character of Flora and plunged me straight into her world of disorientation. Flora still thinks she is ten, but she is actually seventeen. She feels confused by the party she is attending and heads to the beach where she ends up kissing Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend. To Flora’s delight, she doesn’t forget the kiss and so sparks her journey to get more of her memory back.
Once I got my hands on a copy of the book and kept reading, I found that the first chapter was kind of misleading. Now, I understand that Flora has anterograde amnesia and forgets everything every few hours, but for me the first half of the book became too repetitive. After that initial kiss with Drake nothing much happens for the next fifty or so pages. It is not until almost half way through the book that the action finally kicks in and when it does the story does pick up. Continue reading “Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks”
Mental health is a subject that is close to my heart. Several of my loved ones have and do suffer from depression and, while I would never say I’ve been depressed or suicidal, I did suffer from a terrible bout of low self-esteem right out of university which left me hiding out in the house for over a year. It is a topic which has been widely discussed in the past year, but one which so many people still don’t take seriously enough.
Last year there seemed to be quite a few YA novels coming out centered around various mental health issues. Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places is one of them. It follows Finch and Violet, two teenagers in Indianapolis, who meet on top of the school bell tower. Both of them are contemplating suicide. Violet’s sister was killed in a terrible accident and it has left her emotionally scarred. Finch is plagued by mood swings and competing personalities, terrified of ‘falling asleep’ again, like he did the previous winter.
There’s no denying that mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed with teenagers. Being young is hard enough, what with all the pressure of exams and puberty and figuring out what you want to do with your life. I know when I was growing up, topics such as depression and anxiety were never mentioned. In all our social education classes, not once did we touch on these important issues. It is a fact, however, that more and more young people are suffering from mental illnesses and they need somewhere to turn to. Thankfully, writers like Niven are giving these teens a voice and letting them know they are not alone. Continue reading “Book Review: All The Bright Places”