“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!

Celebrity public meltdowns: why are we laughing?

A few weeks ago, as I’m sure many of you are aware, child star Amanda Bynes had her latest breakdown, airing it on Twitter for the world to see. She claimed that she had been abused by her father her whole life, then quickly denied the statement saying it was due to the microchip implanted in her brain. My flatmate and I were laughing as we watched her tweets live, and found the whole ordeal pretty amusing.

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The next day I decided to do a Twitter search of her name to see what the latest drama was. I quickly found out that she had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital and was undergoing treatment. Not surprising, I thought. It was then that I came across a tweet that changed my perspective on it all. It read something along the lines of: we cried when Robin Williams died but we’re laughing at Amanda Bynes.

Short and powerful. Why are we finding her deteriorating mental health a form of entertainment, but deeply upset by the passing of Robin Williams? Mental health is no laughing matter.

Mental health awareness – or the lack of it – has been discussed a lot in the news and media lately and it is an issue that needs addressing. Whilst listening to the radio yesterday, a certain news story grasped my attention which was making an attempt to help tackle this problem. It was about a new suicide prevention app, created by the charity Samaritans, which people can download in order to monitor the tweets of friends and loved ones.

The app, titled Radar, monitors tweets for words and phrases which could signify that a person in struggling or going through a tough time. It hopes to ensure that people don’t miss important tweets at times when they may not be likely to see them, such as at night.

Even though it is undergoing some scrutiny, I believe that it is a brilliant invention. It’s not doing any harm; its primary purpose is to prevent it.

We live in a world where technology, for a lot of people, is a main source for communication. We’ve all seen those Facebook statuses and tweets from people who share a little too much information, but maybe this isn’t a bad thing? If someone finds it a useful way to vent their anger, show their emotions or deal with certain issues, let them! If Amanda Bynes hadn’t written those tweets and made clear how mentally unstable she was, she may not have got the medical attention that she required. We should use our technology reliant society to our advantage to create more apps like Radar, and adapt and change them to improve the lives and stability or people who may not be so easily reached in other ways.