mo'adore: cruelty-free beauty ∙ vegan food ∙ glasgow/dundee lifestyle: March 2016

31 March 2016

The Linkables

Source. 

Is everyone enjoying spring? Or what we've seen of it so far. Personally, I'm still walking around in my winter coat cause I've had a cold for most of this month that won't budge (I'm thinking of starting a campaign to get Sudafed on the NHS - most of my spending this month has been on getting better). It's been a quiet month for me as I've been trying to stash a lot of money and get the savings pot going for some expensive purchases. I've also got a really busy April coming up (I'm writing this post on Tuesday because it's my only free night this week) work nights outs, a Girl Geek Brunch meet-up, the possibility of a friend visiting and a new flatmate. 


Anyway enough about my bank balance and busy April. Links! 

Food, veganism & animal rights

I've always been quite indifferent to cereal, but apparently millennials on the whole aren't feeling it.

The same Sarah also shares her first impression of the new Zizzi vegan menu

If you're planning to feed the ducks this year: for the love of Pete, don't take bread

Geek & Pop Culture

Have you ever noticed that all the women on TV have the same hair?


A Taste of Streep is weird but brilliant.

Echoing my veiws on why Batgirl is the best female superhero.

Feminism & Equality


I found myself laughing at this story from a women about the things she learnt about people's lingerie habits while working at Victoria's Secret

The brilliant Sarah wrote an amazing post on why it's okay to not want children.

I know what it's like to be homeless, but not houseless. I might write about it someday but for now here is Rachel's story

An inspiring piece from Claire on how she learnt to love anti-depressants


If there's something I find myself calling feminists out on regularly it's shaming of small penises (and erectile dysfunction). Everyday Feminism has put into words why jokes about small penises are anti-feminist.

ASMR

I've found myself getting lost in haircut ASMR roleplays this month, this one from Equilibrium ASMR had me tingling all over.

If you're looking for a British ASMRartist to sooth away your stresses Be Calm With Becca is a new find of mine. Her Is ASMR Sexual? video if informative and softly spoken and her haircut roleplay (told you I was digging into this genre). You might reocgnise her from her lifestyle channel Becca C

Voldemort's attempt at ASMR didn't make me tingle, but it did make me laugh.

If your ASMR is brought on by sounds, Ellie Alien is an excellent ASMRartist to check out (and this is coming from someone who's ASMR is brought on by roleplay!).

Travel

There's an AirBnB that let's you run your bookshop for your stay....and it's in Scotland.

Pictures of open borders in the EU Schengen area.

I'm not sure if you've been watching The Cruise? I've only been watching for work but I got hooked, and wrote a blog post on why the Regal Princess is a ship every cruise lover should go on.

Etc. 

Ever wondered which typeface you are? Probably not, but there's a quiz for that anyway

Up your selfie game with MSQRD

If you've ever wanted to drink a latter with your own face on it...you can do so

28 March 2016

Can cosmetic surgery be considered cruelty-free?



Would you ever consider cosmetic surgery?

I'm not going to lie and say that I've never considered hovered on it myself. In fact, there's only two reasons why I've never done had some work done: 

1. I'd have to stumble upon a lot of money
2. Could I still call myself cruelty-free if I did?

The second reason is what the topic of today's blog post is. While cosmetic surgery is to a lot of people something to make you look better, plastic surgery is first and foremost a medical procedure. Therefore it has been tested on animals at some point - something I didn't think about until it was pointed out to me. Remember, while cosmetic testing is outlawed in the UK, animal testing is still required by law for medical purposes. So while botox is commonly used to smooth out wrinkles, it was actually tested on animals because it was originally manufactured as a drug to treat a range of medical conditions (such as migraines and cerebral palsy). Then there's the painkillers you'll be on. So if we're using plastic surgery purely for cosmetic reasons can we still consider ourselves cruelty-free, or even vegan? 

As a note, my goal with this blog post is not to defame anyone who has ever considered cosmetic surgery, or even had a procedure done. I'm not attempting to be the cruelty-free or vegan police. Heck, this blog post isn't even going to be informative or argumentative, more something to get the conversation started. 

For a lot of people cosmetic surgery is essential. Breast cancer survivors, burn victims, feminisation surgery for trans women, those who have recovered from an eating disorder and children born with a cleft lip. These are all things that I believe should be available on the NHS. I myself have even had a bit of cosmetic surgery done on the NHS - I had a mole/spot/something on my top right cheek that had to be removed for health reasons. It was a cosmetic surgeon who carried out the procedure to ensure the scarring was minimal (if you look closely you can see the scar, this photo shows it slightly). For the record, I was four and the details are hazy. 

I don't even believe that non-medical plastic surgery is always about vanity. A breast reduction can be for practical reasons, and if someone is really fixating on a facial feature that is causing psychological distress cosmetic surgery could well improve their self-esteem. Even people who do get cosmetic surgery for a nip and a tuck could have just fallen pray to societies standards of beauty, and that's society who is to blame (reason 3 why I would probably never actually go under the knife is because I feel I'd be letting society, and anyone who has ever reminded me that my nose is on the generous side, win).



I think cosmetic surgery is a complicated issue. Whether we're discussing it from an animal rights perspective or a feminist perspective. There's a famous American vegan YouTuber who has had a boob job and lip injections (I hate linking or bringing her directly into the conversation but I can link her privately if you're interested) and received nasty comments practically telling her not to call herself a vegan any more. She isn't even the only cruelty-free individual I know who has at least considered permanently changing a feature they don't like. 

As for medical testing, I don't like that the cure for cancer will come at the expense of animals. But I'm not going to refuse any life saving medical treatment because I'm vegan, or refuse plastic surgery for medical purposes. I support the the Dr Hadwen Trust and I hope one day there will be an alternative method to testing new medicines. 

Until then I'll have to make do with cruelty-free cosmetics to alter facial features that I don't like. Because until the day medical testing has advanced beyond using animals I'm personally not going to book myself in for a cosmetic surgery consultation as it just doesn't align with my cruelty-free beliefs (plus I'd still need to stumble upon that aforementioned pile of money). 

18 March 2016

My 5 favourite fictional females


Ah, fictional characters. Sometimes you might argue I'm a little too invested in my favourite fictional people from the world of pop culture, but when you're a teenager* and looking for someone to look up to and remind you that 'everything's going to be okay' sometimes a feisty female from your favourite tv show feels more appropriate than someone you know in real life.

*And I say teenager, but some of these fabulous fictional ladies only came into my life in my 20s. I'll never stop being a fangirl. Without anymore of an introduction...


Willow

Buffy has many a tear jerker moments. For me, one of those were in the final minutes when Willow went all white-haired and channelled the power of the original slayer into all the potential slayers. Because, wow. From bookworm with a crush on her best friend, to dating a warewolf, to iconic LGBT character to evil willow full of grief to bad-ass saviour of the world. Let's salute. 

Storm

I'll be honest why I like Storm:
1. She commands attention
2. She can change the weather. That's a cool and unique superpower. Telekinesis is so common and mainstream. 

Batgirl/Barbara Gordon

When I started to get into comics last year from a feminist lens, the females I wanted to concentrate on from the DC Universe were the big ones: Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Catwoman. I only picked up a Batgirl comic by chance at a con and within it's pages I discovered the kind of heroine my former teenage self would have looked up to. Intelligent, a bit bookish, redheaded and also a crime fighter! I'd almost say she's the Hermoine Granger of the superhero world, book-smart like a Ravenclaw but definitely a brave Griffindor through and through. Proving you can be a good student but also a bad-ass at the same time.

But pssshhhhttt: I've only read the 52 collection. I'm yet to immerse myself in he world of Oracle or the alternative Batgirls. Sorry, I know, I'm clearly a #fakegirlgeek. *slaps self on wrists*

Claudia Kishi

Let's roll back time to the Babysitters Club, from a time before I even walked this earth. While you would be forgiven for assuming my favourite character would be Dawn with her tofu-loving California cool ways, as a child I was all about Claudia. Art was my favourite subject as a Babysitters Club reading pre-teen so Claudia was the natural shoe-in. As an adult my critical social justice warrior lens also praises the characters inclusion in the series as an example of a non-white character portrayed in a non-stereotypical way (this was a Asian-American who got bad grades, really bad grades).

Kat Stratford

When I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You circa 2004, Kas was issuing out one of her eloquent but angsty rants to Bianca, and my dad turned to me and said "gosh, she sound like you". At the time I was proud of this (cringe) but when it comes to teenage characters I could have been compared to I'd much rather have been compared to Kat than many others. I've let go of my hormonal angst but I have no regrets. And I'm not the only one who thinks she's awesome.

Who are you five favourite fictional females? 


10 March 2016

Ann Frank House: more than a museum



I've been wanting to see the Ann Frank House since I was little. 

I'm not sure how little, but I imagine probably about the time World War 2 was chosen as our class project in primary school. In the Easter of 2002 on a family trip to Florida we had a stop-over in Amsterdam airport and I pleaded with my mum to take a trip out to visit Ann Frank's House. My eleven year old self didn't quite understand how airport stop-overs worked yet. 

Fast forward to my twenty-fifth year on earth and I finally got to climb the stairs of the attic myself on my recent trip to Amsterdam. 

When people ask me if I enjoyed the museum or what it was like, I'm not entirely sure how to answer. Most museums could be described as "nice", "lovely" and "enjoyable". While it was interesting and I agree standing in the long queue was worth it, the usual adjectives to describe museums just don't feel right. I'd honestly maybe say it was 'creepy' and 'eerie' walking round the former hideout of a discriminated group of individuals during a historical event that shows just how much further society still has to go. It even felt odd that something like this should actually be a tourist attraction at all. 

I don't even think me and Hayley even muttered a word to each other as we walked through the corridors of the former hideout. With all furniture removed at the request of Otto Frank the rooms feel bare and haunted. I'm not even sure if I heard any of the other visitors even whisper to each other.

Moving out of the attic and into the museum, you can feel tension coming undone and visitors begin to pass verbal cues to one another again. This, however, was also the part where I began to act up emotionally. The attic itself was eery but it also fails to feel....real. As in no way did eight people manage to hide here for two years? It's back in the museum where you learn more about the story and see the official artefacts (including the diary itself) that it began to dawn on me that Ann Franks Diary wasn't just a book.

It was real life. On top of that it was also a sociological commentary. It was a story of how dark society can get when we don't fight discrimination. It was a memoir of what it's like to be part of a marginalised group who actually had to go into fucking hiding. It's a reminder as to why social justice warriors and activists do what they do. The museum even explicitly says that the ideologies and political beliefs that led to these events are not yet dead and still hover at the fringes of society (or even subliminally in mainstream media). 

It could happen again.

In clips of Otto Frank - Anne's father, the sole survivor - discussing his decision to publish his daughter's diary and open the museum, it becomes clear that this is the message he wanted to get across. He was honouring his daughter's wishes, but he also wanted to crack down on the lack of humanity within society that meant the diary ever had to exist in the first place. 

The last part of the museum shows a film where people say what the diary means to them. The actress Emma Thompson appeared and it was her quote that hit me and I chose for my Instagram of the Anne Frank statue

"Her would-haves are our opportunities".

Anne wanted to change the world post-war and fight the beliefs that put her into hiding with her diary as solace. She also wanted to become a world-famous writer. Which she did go on to achieve, but didn't survive the war to witness her diary become one of the best-selling pieces of literature ever.

And as that piece of information surrounded me, I felt myself act up again. 


8 March 2016

International Women's Day 2016



It all started in the kitchen of the first house I ever lived in. 

"Mum why do you wear a wedding ring but dad doesn't?". 

Her answer was that women wear rings but men have the option. We moved out of that house in the summer of 1999 so I must have been eight-years-old or younger, and already I was questioning the gender roles that society imposed on us. If the answer had been that my dad just hates jewellery and my mum doesn't feel insecure because he won't wear a piece of jewellery that marks him as off the market, I wouldn't have cared. That's choice. The answer I got didn't sound all that much like choice.

I didn't know what the word feminist meant yet. I wasn't even familiar with the word. But it's quite obvious at that tender age I already was one.  

While there were more moments throughout my early life that raised my eyebrow (why girls couldn't play football, why guys in my class who were no Abercrombie Model would mock girls would weren't Victoria Secret models, why every time I had a male friend I would be asked if he was my boyfriend) my next big feminist clicking point was at some point in early high school while reading a Christina Aguilera interview. 

She was responding to claims she was a slut and should cover up, and her response pointed out that no one would care if she was male. Slut is a word reserved for women, while men are studs. It opened up my eyes and I never used the word slut again. 

Then I bought her Stripped album (with a saucy cover, much to my mum's annoyance) and heard a song that caused a few fist-pumps in my teenage bedroom. It arrived on the music channels not long after. 


(But as an older feminist who now has a grasp of intersectionality, I can see how problematic the video is when it comes to race). 

It does however escape me the moment I knew what the word feminist meant. I wish I could remember. But I remember falling into feminist blogs so it was maybe one of them that did it: Feministe, Feministing, and Bitch Buzz were all internet reading material in my late teens (what do you mean nineteen-year-olds go out and down Jagerbombs?). 

I can't remember the moment I began to use the word feminist, but I know that I've been one since childhood and remain one to this day. I'll remain one until the day catcalls are no more, when girls have access to abortion across the world, when sex education is mandatory and covers consent, when sexual consent is fully understood and isn't just "we'll if she doesn't actually say no...". when board rooms have just as many women as men, when trans women are just as much real women as cis-women, when Batgirl gets her own film and it's hyped as much as a Batman film (okay fine, when any female superhero gets her own much-hyped film) and when all social injustices are dead, because remember "my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit".*

Happy International Womens Day. 


* There are more feminist issues in the world than just these but I forgot to write this post until last night so I'm going for something brief before I hit my pillow. I wrote this last year

7 March 2016

Botanicals Mandarin & Chamomile Face Polish

botanicals facial polish

As I hit my teenage years it became clear I had what is known as oily skin. 

Even before I finished primary school I already had black-heads and the odd break-out. Thus, began the teenage search for skin care. At the time I tried what was aimed at teenagers and what the age-appropriate magazines were telling me to buy, plus because my mum was still responsible for my spending it was also largely her decision what products I tried. 

This led to me not using very good skincare products. It was Clean&Clear and Clearsil etc. Stuff I wouldn't even touch these days. As an adult I very much have discovered that natural is better and that even the oiliest of skin needs can still be stripped of natural oils if washed too much. My mum used to buy me scrubs and encourage me to use them daily saying my skin needed it, which is not what I'd recommend. My skincare these days is a lot gentler and works wonders for my skin type. 

I'm still sceptical of scrubs. So when Botanicals got in contact offering me a tub of their Mandarin & Chamomile Facial Polish* I accepted it with a bit of hesitation. It's a company that prides itself on being natural, but the word polish brings up memories of my teenage skincare routine and overdoing it with harsh scrubs (you know that St Ives scrub that gets raved about - I hate it). 

botanicals facial polish inside

But when I opened up the tub I was pleasantly surprised that the scrub itself is very smooth and has a high cream to exfoliant ratio. The exfoliant of choice is oatmeal, so it's very gentle and won't harm the environment when it goes down the drain either. The smell I would say is a very typical natural skincare smell, which might not be the best description ever - but effectively it smells like a natural health shop and I have loads of products that smell the same. Nothing distasteful, but nothing to rave about either. 

As for the after-effects, this is a great product to use to perk-up skin for a few days but not one to use if you're looking for longer-term improvements. I've been using it weekly, as per instructions, and afterwards my skin is smoother and much softer, but I'm yet to spot any real ongoing changes. It's a great skincare product to use before a night out or an interview to help you look more awake and help your make-up go on a lot smoother. I personally like to use before I head out for a shift at the bar. 

The product also lasts a long time. I only have a 30g tub, but I imagine it'll do me a very long time as so little product is actually needed (especially as it's only a weekly or when needed product). Being a natural product it does come with a sell-by date and my particular tub is October 2017 - which isn't bad for a natural product.

Pros: brightens skin and perks it up
Cons: only offers short terms improvements for the skin
Ingredients: Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, glycerine, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, decyl glucoside, cocos nucifero (coconut) oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, rosa canina seed poweder, avena satvia (oat) kernal meal, calendula offcinalis leaf extract, tocopherol, zea mays seed flour, parfum, lavendula angustifolia (lavender) flower oil, anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower oil, citrus nobilis (mandarin orange) peel oil, geranoil, limonene, linalool. 


3 March 2016

A walk round De Wallen: has Amsterdam altered my opinion on sex work?





*Trigger Warning for sex work, trafficking and abuse*

On my recent trip to Amsterdam I made sure to stop by the Red Light District. 

That's probably a statement that comes as little to surprise to anybody who knows me. It's known that I'm a sex geek who can speak fluently about matters of the groin and that sexual health is one of my biggest feminist crusades. So while the Red Light District is an area of Amsterdam of which piques curiosity, for me it was a chance to get geeky and philosophical as I walked through streets decorated by legalised sex work. 

To put something on the table before we go any further: I'm a sex-positive feminist. I support legalised sex work and have zero issue with bonking-for-profit. Consent and respect is all I preach. Aside from that I believe humans should be able to touch each other in a way that feels right for them. Obviously, I know that legalised sex work carries with it issues: underage sex, sexual health, stigma, trafficking etc and I'm still not sure how society should iron out these kinks in practice. Thus, witnessing how the Netherlands navigates these issues was on my bucket list. 

Obviously you can simply just walk through the De Wallen streets to get a feel for how its run, however there's two places within these alleyways where you can learn more about the day-to-day life of this profession. First is the Prostitute Information Centre and the Museum of Prostitution. I wasn't able to step inside the first as I always walked past at the wrong time however I managed to stop in by the latter on my final day. 

I'm not going to re-hash the entire tour. It's not long and is only eight euros so you can take it one day yourself. But what it does do is takes you through what it's like to be a sex worker in Amsterdam. You get a tour of various rooms: a private sex workers room, a reconstruction of a fancy brothel room, and an S&M room. There's also the chance to sit in a window yourself. Both a real one and another with video footage which shows the kind of reactions you receive.



What this museum does not do is glamorises sex work. The Museum of Prostitution does not deny that trafficking or abusive partners forcing the profession on their girlfriends happens. These issues are not dusted under the rug, and you can donate to an anti-trafficking charity on your way out. The window of the Prostitute Information Centre also has their windows framed by campaign posters reminding tourists that sex workers have the right to do their job without being photographed, just like any other job. The fact that these posters still exist shows that sex work still has a long way to go before it's seen as just another legitimate profession and not something to gawk at.

(I also stopped by the Sex Museum and Erotic Museum, neither of which went into any great deal about sex workers but were still highly interesting, but probably part of a different blog post. I'd still recommend them). 

Stepping back onto the streets, and I admit that the sex work that surrounds me isn't the kind that takes place in the sexual utopia I strive for. The girls almost all fit the standards of conventional beauty and, well, it's all women with a few trans-identified girls with purple lights above their doors. Megan Ten Eyck wrote an insightful post on not being catered to as a queer-women by Amsterdam's sex industry. It's still very heteronormative and my own research amongst the sex-positive feminist community is that it's bullshit only old pervy men are clients of sex workers, though I don't think De Wallen does much to dispel this myth. The reason why sex work is still aimed at the stereotypical heterosexual male eye is a lot more complicated than "men feel entitled to sex, and will pay for it while women would never do such a thing". Some sex-positive feminists I know are so because they want the sex industry to start recognising that they exist as a legitimate target market and would like to be consumers too (so much for pervy old men).



In short: my trip to Amsterdam did little to sway my opinion on sex work. I still support it. I do, however, think the Netherlands has a while to go before it represents the kind of the sex work the sex-positive feminist community campaigns for. Saying that, I still maintain that the country's decision to legalise sex work in 2001 was a step in the correct direction. 


P.S. I know this a sensitive topic for people. Debate, and even respectful disagreement, is encouraged, However ridiculous comments and nasty words will be deleted.