Unrealistic life lessons learnt from Disney

As it’s the weekend I decided to write a different kind of post today, and wanted to go for something a bit more fun!

I’m writing my dissertation on language and gender in Disney films which is a great excuse to spend hours of my life watching The Little Mermaid and all the other classics. However, watching them at this age has unfortunately caused me to start criticising the logic of the films and has got me thinking about what Disney did to my expectations of life. Similar to the video that Jenna Marbles uploaded a few years ago, I decided to list the ‘life lessons’ I received from watching Disney and Pixar films growing up.

1. I remember being about five years old and thinking that if I grew my hair long enough, it would automatically make me become a princess. It did not.

2. From watching Edgar make the milk in Aristocats I was lead to believe that if you mix together milk, sugar and anything else you can find in your cupboard it makes a delicious drink. I tried this when I was about eight and was bitterly disappointed. Also cats are lactose intolerant, something which I found hard to believe due to this film making me think all cats drank milk.

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3. As the song tells us, “when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true“, with no input from yourself needed. In other words, don’t work hard for the things you want in life, just wish for them to happen! It wasn’t until last year that I eventually gave up on this.

4. Simliarly, Cinderella sings “a dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re asleep”. If this is true then according to last night’s dream I want to be chased by spiders? I definitely do not!

5. If you sing to an animal it will instantly become your best friend. I’ve tried this with my dog several times and she just looks at me like I’m crazy.

6. I thought that all Godmothers were Fairy Godmothers; magical women who were fairies and could grant any wish you made to come true. I was always disappointed that I never a Godmother…

7. If you’re going through a rough patch or just having a bad day, the best thing to do is to lay down on the nearest thing you can find and have a good cry about it.

8. For quite a while, I genuinely believed that all stepmothers were evil women who wanted to ruin your life, or even have you killed.

9. The Lion King also lead me to believe that all hyenas were evil.

10. It also made me think that all animals in the wild were friends. I’m pretty sure this scene would end in mass murder.

11. Thanks to Toy Story, I secretly hoped that one day I’d walk in on my toys and teddies running around my room. While this never happened, I still to this day believe that my teddies have feelings, and that they’ll be deeply hurt if I ever abandon them.

12. Making a dress is easy, all you have to do is place some fabric over your head, tie it in the right places and cut some parts out, and voilà. I made a dress once and it was certainly not this easy.

13. You can fall in love with someone just by looking at them. You don’t even have to speak to them. Just wait until they rescue you – which often just entails kissing you – and then ride off into the sunset with them to live happily ever after.

Although all of these obscurities aside, I’m still a massive Disney fan!

Black Friday

It’s almost impossible to have not realised that today is Black Friday and after receiving 36 emails today, the majority of which were related to it, I decided that as I can’t avoid its existence, I may as well just blog about it. So firstly, what actually is Black Friday?

I’m from the UK, and so Black Friday is not something that I have really experienced before and I was only previously aware of its existence due to references in my favourite American sitcoms. Black Friday is the day which follows Thanksgiving Day in the USA (which was yesterday), and is often seen to be the signifier of the start of the Christmas season. Unfortunately for us living in the UK, the Christmas season pretty much started here straight after Halloween on the 1st of November. Historically, the term Black Friday originates from Philadelphia, where it was originally used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would appear the day after Thanksgiving. But more simply, Black Friday is basically our equivalent to the infamous Boxing Day sales, where shops and online retailers apply discounts across their stock, drawing in hundreds of crazed sale shoppers.

While this is a long running American tradition, why is it that this year it seems to have made its way over to the UK? Apart from the obvious reasons of stores generating more sales in time with Christmas, I just don’t understand why it is relevant to our country. I don’t know of any British people who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, so why are we participating in Black Friday?

After thinking about it, I realised that it probably stemmed from the internet. Online shopping has become increasingly popular over the last few years, with sales across Europe expected to reach over £111.2 billion this year. Mobile shopping is also becoming increasingly popular, because who has time to sit down at a computer or laptop and shop? With large online retailers such as Amazon and Apple promoting Black Friday in the UK in 2011, and Asda (a sister company of the American store, Walmart) jumping on the bandwagon in 2013 launching its “Walmart’s Black Friday by ASDA” campaign, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the UK’s stores saw the opportunity to increase their sales and entice Christmas shoppers.

The shopping event has caused chaos across the country, both in high street stores and online with many websites being down due to the high volume of shoppers. Unsurprisingly, Black Friday has managed to stretch itself onto a whole weekend and is followed by Cyber Monday on, well, Monday. So, if you’re a poor student like me who can barely afford to buy food, let alone a new TV or clothes, I suggest that you stay inside this weekend, hidden away from the scary sale shoppers hoping to grab themselves a bargain! And just in case you’re tempted to risk it, I’ve attached a video showing what you’re getting yourself into!

“Between”

Today’s Blogging101 challenge is to try out another blogging event, so I have chosen to take part in the Weekly Photo Challenge. I thought it would be nice to do something that involved photography, rather than a writing challenge as it is not something that I have done before!

The challenge for this week is to show the concept of ‘between’, so I looked around for inspiration. I gazed out of my window looking at the grey and rainy November day, and noticed that there were only a few brown autumnal leaves left clinging onto the branches of the trees.

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Apologies for the poor image quality, it was taken out of my window and zoomed in using my iPhone camera. I believe that this photo captures the concept of ‘between’ by demonstrating how we are now leaving autumn behind and heading into winter, but currently stuck between the two.

Sports stars as role models

I’ve been suffering from writer’s block this week, struggling to get my thoughts written down. But then I heard a story on the news which I just felt the need to write about. I’m sure you’re all familiar with it; it’s that one about Ched Evans and Jessica Ennis-Hill…

Ched Evans, the Sheffield United football player, was found guilty of rape in April 2012 and sentenced to five years in jail. However, last month he was released after serving just half of this sentence. Since his release there has been a lot of speculation about whether or not he will be able to return to his football club, but earlier this week it was announced that the Sheffield United bosses have decided to allow him to train with the club. So where does Jessica Ennis-Hill come into this?

The Olympic 2012 heptathlon champion, who is from Sheffield and has a stand named after her in the football ground, has said that she wants her name taken off the stand if Evans is allowed to return to the club. Personally, I’m totally with her. Why should she associate herself with someone else’s mistakes? By asking for her name to be removed – which I’m sure was a huge honour for her to receive in the first place – she is displaying her outrage at the fact that the convicted rapist may be re-signed with the club. She said that, “those in positions of influence should respect the role they play in young people’s lives and set a good example”, which is completely true.

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Footballers and other sports stars are role models for young people, regardless of whether or not they want – or should – be. By allowing Evans to return to his club as though nothing has happened, a negative message is being sent out to children and young adults. Firstly it shows them that when you’re given a jail sentence, you probably only end up serving a small portion of it anyway (something that really angers me), and secondly that once you’ve received your ‘punishment’ your life is able to just carry on as normal afterwards. This kind of message isn’t exactly going to convince young people to stay away from a life of crime, is it?

Unfortunately for Ennis-Hill, she has now been the victim of the Internet – and some of the disgusting people who use it – and has received a rape threat over Twitter. The tweet came from an account which has since been deleted, and read “I hope he [Evans] rapes her”. An investigation has been launched into the posts and Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, has said that Ennis-Hill was completely right to want her name removed, and shared how disgusted she was of the threat that had been made towards her. She explained how, “Jessica Ennis-Hill has done exactly the right thing by taking a stand against violence against women”, and she believes that the dark response Ennis-Hill received just highlights how important the issue is.

I admire what Jessica Ennis-Hill has done, and by speaking out about the controversy she has shown how people in the spotlight should behave in order to positively influence the people who look up to them. When you enter into a career, hobby or lifestyle choice that is going to put you in the centre of the media’s eye, you have to accept that the consequences of your actions will become available for the world to see. Whether or not a sports star wants to be seen as a role model, it is inevitable that they will become one for certain people, so they need to respect this fact and behave in a way which is acceptable.

The internet overreacts to Victoria’s Secret advert

Over the last couple of weeks Victoria’s Secret, the well known American lingerie company, has been under attack on social media because of the advert for their new bra. The advertising campaign for their new product, named the ‘Body’ bra, featured a handful of the glorious models each wearing a different form of the product, with the words The Perfect “Body” sprawled across them

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I understand where the criticism is coming from and how this may upset some people, but personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I read an article claiming that this campaign is going to cause eating disorders, low self esteem and negative body image, which I think is taking it too far. I therefore feel it is important to point out a couple of things…

Firstly, the campaign is not directly calling the models’ bodies perfect. It is referring to the bra itself, which is called the ‘Body’ bra. The aim of the new line is to ensure that there is a bra for every need – for example perfect coverage, multi-way or racerback – which is clearly shown in the advert; they are stating that it is the perfect bra.

Technicalities aside, yes, Victoria’s Secret models do have amazing figures. They’re underwear models, what do you expect? For the last few years now I have watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and though I may be envious of their beauty and bodies, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for them. They work extremely hard to maintain their figures, involving eating a healthy and well balanced diet and exercising frequently. Candice Swanepoel, in an interview with vogue.com shares how she finds that “100 minutes of nonstop action every other day” to be a good way to stay in shape. Her exercises include a range of toning, cardio and shaping which show her dedication to being a healthy size. As well as informing us of her exercise technique, she also explains that when it comes to her diet, she doesn’t cut anything out. She says, “I actually focus on eating more protein and carbs to build a stronger body”, dismissing any criticism of how the models may not eat a healthy and balanced diet.

I believe that instead of ‘bodyshaming’ women, the advert could actually instead promote being healthy, and should provide women with role models to look up and aspire to. Obesity is becoming a huge problem in our society, with 64% of UK adults being classed as overweight or obese. I fear that the issue is not being appropriately addressed, with fears of upsetting or hurting people by explaining how it is important to be a healthy size. In my opinion, our society is becoming too politically correct, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to say something without being told that it is no longer acceptable to say that.

An online petition was made against the Victoria’s Secret campaign, asking them to change it and provide an apology. While the company as yet has not released an apology (and why should they?) they have unfortunately, in my opinion, changed the advert, and it now reads “A Body For Every Body”, which if you ask me, is a bit of a mouthful.

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“Who I am and why I’m here”

I’m a little late with this, but better late than never, hey?

This month I’m partaking in Blogging 101 to try and develop and improve my blogging skills. The first challenge, set on Monday, was to write a short introduction about yourself. I’ve already done this in the About section of my blog, but thought there’s no harm in giving it another go!

I’m Laura, 22 years old and currently in my third year of studying English Language and Media. I come from a small village – basically in the middle of nowhere – but have recently moved to a city to study at university. I love city life, but do occasionally enjoy the odd visit back to the beautiful English countryside.

Throughout my studies I’ve had a couple of assignments where I’ve had to write a blog, and I must say that I really enjoyed writing them. I love to write and I’ve been meaning to start my own personal blog for a while now, but have always struggled to make the first post and think of a topic to write about. I finally made the first step of actually creating a blog last week, and it was then that I came across Blogging 101. What perfect timing!

I’ve decided that the best things for me to write about are topics which I find particularly interesting, and have a strong opinion about.  A lot of these will be media related, discussing various things I have seen across social media platforms, or providing a response to an article I have read. Something which I’m particularly passionate presently is gender equality and also how women are portrayed in the media. I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a feminist though, as there a few issues I don’t agree on (which I’m sure you will find out for yourselves soon enough!).

Who would I like to connect with via my blog? Just anyone and everyone who finds what I have to say of particular interest! I welcome comments from people who both agree and disagree with what I have to say, as I’m a strong believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

By blogging successfully throughout the year, I aim to improve my writing skills and develop my own ‘voice’ and style. But as well as this I hope to create an interesting and thought provoking body of entries, and in doing so connect with people around the world. I think that blogging is an excellent thing to do, and I hope to keep it up for the foreseeable future!